Celebrate Black Women In Comedy By Watching VH1’S ‘All Jokes Aside’ Documentary [VIDEO]

According to Shadow and Act, VH1 has released a new documentary called “All Jokes Aside” which follows leading comediennes including Tichina Arnold, Amanda Seales, Luenell, Tiffany Haddish, Yvonne Orji, and more as they share the ups and downs of being comedians who also happen to be black women. From racism, sexism, the lack of representation and opportunity, and other obstacles, viewers discover what makes their lives as Black comediennes tough work.

As Luenell states in the doc: “Comedians are already sort of the last renegade entertainers, and the female comic is almost invisible. The female black comic, they just don’t focus on us at all.”

Despite the unfair disadvantages they each face, each is still very much determined to continue to blaze their own trails to success in the business, giving credit to those who came before them, who had an even more difficult time as they broke down barriers in the realm of stand-up comedy, television, and film, opening doors for these younger black women comedians of today, creating their own opportunities.

VH1 is honoring these women as they continue to mark strides in Hollywood, influencing and inspiring others, and the world.  Check out the enlightening and entertaining full short documentary “All Jokes Aside” (it’s just over 22 minutes long) below:

Issa Rae Joins Bill Hader in Drama-Comedy ‘Empress of Serenity’

According to Variety, “Insecure” star Issa Rae is joining former Saturday Night Live star Bill Hader (Trainwreck) in the feature comedy, Empress of Serenity. Bill Hader in the drama-comedy “Empress of Serenity,” directed by “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” author and screenwriter Jesse Andrews. Good Universe is producing “Empress of Serenity,” centered on a lawyer who’s coerced into taking an ocean cruise in order to bond with his estranged father. Production is planned for August.

Hader plays a man whose elaborate plan to win back his ex-wife is upended when he is guilted into a month-long mega-cruise with his widowed father. Rae plays a reclusive kindred spirit in the cabin next door who becomes both the aid and the obstacle in his plan.

Sidebar: Yay! Go Issa!!!

 

Quencie Interviews Guillermo Diaz of #Scandal

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I interviewed Guillermo Diaz at a NAACP nominees luncheon.  He plays the role of  'Huck ' on the ABC hit show 'Scandal' starring Kerry Washington.   Check out our conversation where we talked about his role and his NAACP nomination. Watch below. 

Quencie Interviews Vanessa Williams

I interviewed Vanessa Williams at the NAACP Theater awards. I have loved her in so many things that I was thrilled to get a chance to speak to her on the red carpet. She has conquered TV, film, music and Broadway.  Watch our conversation below. 

Bobbi Kristina’s Estate Trustee Quits

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According to theJasmineBRAND.com, the trustee presiding over Bobbi Kristina Brown’s estate has resigned from the job, following over a year of nasty battles with Cissy and Pat Houston, over everything from Bobby Brown, Nick Gordon to money.

Bedelia Hargrove was appointed the estate administrator of Bobbi Kristina’s estate, with her aunt Pat and grandmother Cissy Houston both guardians of her trust, which contained the inheritance left by her mother Whitney Houston.  Hargrove sued Bobbi Kristina’s relatives demanding they be removed as trustees of the estate, due to them refusing to pay bills to the tune of $86k.

The Houston’s responded, accusing her of refusing to let them review the bills. They also accused her of wasting money by continuing on with the wrongful death lawsuit with Nick Gordon, which they believed to be a waste of time due to him not having money or financial security.

Over the course of the legal battle, Hargrove claimed that Cissy and Pat were unable to perform their duties due to their hostility towards Bobbi Kristina’s father Bobby Brown.  Then earlier this month, docs were filed in the case explaining Hargrove has resigned as trustee of Bobbi Kristina’s estate. The docs explain a temporary successor, Ann J. Herrera, has been appointed to take over.

According to docs, Hargrove accepted a position with the DeKalb County Probate Court and officially stepped down as head of the estate on March 3rd.The judge approved the resignation and substitute trustee, but ordered no disbursements can be paid out unless approved by the court but she can pay storage fees, execute tax returns, and pay Bobbi Kristina’s state and federal taxes without him signing off on it.

Sidebar: Check out a video tribute I did featuring Whitney and Bobbi Kristina
 



 

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Quencie Thomas

My name is Quencie Thomas, and I interview the stars you love!  I am the founder and host of Studio Q, which delivers fun, authentic and unguarded conversations with celebrities. I conduct exciting red carpet interviews and intimate sit-down conversations with the stars you love.  I go beyond social media and tabloid headlines to really connect you with celebrities in a fun and authentic way. 

Nine Inch Nails, Missy Elliott, Frank Ocean and Bjork Headlining FYF Fest 2017

Josh Brasted/FilmMagic Missy Elliott performs at the 2015 Essence Music Festival on July 4, 2015 in New Orleans.

Josh Brasted/FilmMagic

Missy Elliott performs at the 2015 Essence Music Festival on July 4, 2015 in New Orleans.

According to Billboard, the 2017 FYF Fest in Los Angeles announced its stacked lineup for this year on Tuesday morning (March 21), with headliners including BjorkFrank OceanMissy ElliottNine Inch Nails and Solange. The expanded three-day event at Exposition Park (July 21-23) will feature A Tribe Called Quest's first West Coast show since releasing their final album, as well as Elliott's only scheduled show of the year. FYF Fest is an annual two-day music festival held at the Los Angeles Sports Arena & Exposition Park in Los Angeles, California. It was founded by Sean Carlson in 2004 and is produced by Goldenvoice, a subsidiary of AEG live.

The 14th annual event will also mark the return of comedy for the first time since 2013 with stand-ups including Hannibal Burress. Other acts slate to perform include: Anderson Paak & the Free Nationals, Erykah Badu, Iggy Pop, Run the Jewels, Flying Lotus, MGMT, Slowdive, Blonde Redhead (performing 2000's A Melody of Certain Damaged Lemons in its entirety), Angel Olsen, Kehlani, Majid Jordan, King Krule, Thundercat, The Drums, Grandaddy, Ty Segall, Badbadnotgood, Beach Fossils, Perfume Genius and many more.  General admission passes will go on sale on Friday (March 24) at 12 p.m. PDT for $299 plus fees, with VIP passes available for $549 plus fees. Single day passes ($125) will go on sale in mid-April.

Taraji P. Henson Says She Can’t Play ‘Cookie’ Forever: ‘She Drains Me’

According to Page Six:  “I could not do this forever. No. Cookie wears me out!” Henson exclaims during a recent interview with Variety. “She drains me,” the actress adds with a laugh. “She is emotionally all over the place. Those writers, they just keep pushing my emotions with every episode. By the 18th episode [of each season], I’m dead. I got to get far away. I don’t wear animal print. I cut my hair into a bob. I don’t wear a weave because I’ve got to get as far away from Cookie as possible.”

When asked if she has a number of seasons in mind she’d like “Empire” to stay on the air, Henson quips, “Once it’s syndicated — and then I’m like, ‘Thank you. Goodnight!’”

“I learned this from the women of ‘Sex and the City’ — you’ve got to know when to go out. You don’t want to overstay your welcome. You want to go out on a high. You want to be remembered as the number one show on network,” Henson adds. “I’m going to lose my passion, I know me. And Cookie is enough. I can’t do that for so long.”

While playing Cookie is an emotionally taxing role, Henson wasn’t always confident that her erratic character would resonate with audiences. When she first read the script for “Empire,” she says, she was “scared to death.”

“I thought people would hate her,” Henson admits. “Because of the things that she says, it was very risky, because that’s a character that if it’s not handled correctly, it would turn the audience off.”

Henson could have never imagined the success “Empire” would become — many would say, in large part thanks to her Emmy-nominated and Golden Globe-winning performance as Cookie — but she originally signed onto the Fox pilot because the character frightened her.

“Any role that scares me is a challenge and I don’t back away from challenges. That’s how I pick roles — if it scares me, I have to do it,” she explains. “Cookie scared me a bit and the challenge was, how do I make the audience connect and feel and empathize for her? Once I did that work, I was like, OK, people are either going to love her or hate her. Thank God it worked. Phew!”

It sure did work. “Empire” broke onto the scene as the highest-rated broadcast series in years, constantly rising in the ratings each consecutive week of its first season. Even though the numbers have dipped throughout its run, the Fox drama still ranks as a top scripted network show, along with NBC’s breakout hit “This Is Us.”

But even with the record-breaking numbers, Henson says she doesn’t pay attention to ratings.

“No. I don’t because I can’t. That would drive me crazy,” she says. “I don’t do it for numbers. Plus, I have people for that,” she chuckles. “Trust me — the night after, I’m getting all kind of updates and I don’t need to look. The numbers find me! Oh God … I just want to do good work. If you do good work, the people are going to come. I believe that. So I don’t sweat about the numbers. That’s someone else’s job.”

Henson admits that the importance placed on overnight ratings is part of the reason why she actually prefers working in film than TV. (This past awards season, she starred in the Oscar-nominated and critically raved “Hidden Figures.”)

“I’m in a unique position on my television show, ‘Empire,’ because I think sometimes television is kind of corporate, and I’m an artist and my brain doesn’t work like that. What I mean by corporate is that it’s like a government job almost — you’re still acting, but it’s a different set-up,” Henson explains, continuing, “Film, I like better. You have a day to shoot one scene and you get to let it breathe, and you have one writer for your character so your character doesn’t feel schizophrenic — sometimes, my characters feel schizo on television because there are so many opinions and so much input … that’s why I like film a little better. One writer, one director, one [studio] head. Not all those voices.”

While she’s a bit more privy to film work than television, there is still one thing on Henson’s to-do list: directing an episode of “Empire.”

“I feel like I will, but the bug hasn’t hit me yet,” she says when asked if she’d like to direct. “It’s a lot of work. Our show is deep. There are musical numbers. It’s daunting. I don’t know if I could be in it and direct, but that feels like something I should do because I’m an actress and I’m on a television show and you should. Why not? So the answer is yes. I want to learn more.”

‘The Carmichael Show’ Will Air the Unedited ‘N-Word’ on NBC

According to B Scott, an upcoming episode of NBC’s sitcom “The Carmichael Show” will air the unedited N-word when the series returns for its third season this summer.  Jerrod Carmichael spoke to reporters about the decision Monday at an NBC press event in Beverly Hills, California.

via Variety:

“‘N-word’ is childish…say it!” Carmichael said to members of the press Monday. “We know what we’re talking about. We’re not speaking to children.”

Carmichael said the slur will be used “like six times.”

Loretta Devine, who plays Carmichael’s on-screen mother in the NBC comedy, chimed in, noting that while other broadcast shows have aired the slur — such as “All in the Family” and NBC’s “Sanford and Son” — those shows were on television “before political correctness.”

The episode will air in its normal primetime slot (Season 3 returns Wednesday, May 31 at 9 p.m.), but with a parental advisory notice ahead of the broadcast.

Airing the unedited racial slur is notable for a major network, but “The Carmichael Show” has tackled hot-button, taboo issues through its previous two seasons, proving itself to be a topical show that has been applauded by critics, including Variety‘s Maureen Ryan, who wrote that the sitcom is a “show you should be watching.” The 30-minute laffer has had episodes about rape, police brutality, Black Lives Matter, and Bill Cosby’s scandal.

When the Cosby-themed episode aired, NBC executive Jennifer Salke told Variety, “When we decided to move forward with Jerrod’s show, we bought into the idea that this is a show that tackles really uncomfortable conversations that should be happening in living rooms all over the country. When he brought up doing the Cosby episode, we thoroughly discussed it and made the decision that we would support him tackling this area, as long as with any of the episodes that he hopes to do that he’s exploring the different points of view around these kinds of topics.”

Carmichael said, “You can’t be afraid of talking about things like that.”

Quencie Interviews Lauren Lake of Paternity Court

I interviewed Lauren Lake of Paternity Court at a NAACP nominees luncheon.  Find out what she says when I asked her how she manages a motherhood along with such a popular TV show. Watch our conversation below. 

UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball Los Angeles [VIDEO]

On Saturday, March 18, 2017, I attended The Mayor's Masked Ball at the JW Marriott at LA LIVE in Los Angeles, CA. This is one of the largest events put on by UNCF in cities across the United States on the same evening. The LA chapter was hosted by Mayor Garcetti and honored Lonnie G. Bunch III, Founding Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture and Marx Cazenave a well-known entrepreneur and business Hall of Fame inductee. The ball raised $500,000 for UNCF.

Attendees included: Mayor Eric Garcetti, Lonnie G. Bunch III (Founding Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture), Marx Cazenave (Entrepreneur ), Salli Richardson-Whitfield (I am Legend, Eureka), Michael Jai White (Why Did I Get Married), Laura Govan (Basketball Wives), Dawnn Lewis (Actress & singer), Tiffany Hines (Nikkita, Devious Maids), Lisa Nicole Cloud (Bravo TV's Married to Medicine), T’Keyah Crystal Keymah (In Living Color, That's So Raven), James Wright (WE tv’s “LA Hair”) and Darius McCrary (Next Day Air, Family Matters).

Check out our Studio Q coverage below.

 
Lonnie G. Bunch III, Founding Director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
 

Marx Cazenave, a well-known entrepreneur and business Hall of Fame inductee.


Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You” Credits Feature Kandi Burruss & Tiny Harris

According to Idolator, nearly a decade before music mogul Kandi Burruss starred in The Real Housewives of Atlanta, she won Grammys for writing ’90s hits like Destiny’s Child’s “Bills Bills Bills.” As she confirmed yesterday (March 18), you can still hear her songwriting on the radio today — via Ed SheeranOn Instagram, Kandi thanked the Divide singer-songwriter for allowing her and Tameka Cottle, otherwise known as Tiny Harris, to “share in the success” of “Shape of You.”

While Kandi didn’t specify what happened, she and Tiny are listed in “Shape of You”‘s ASCAP credits. It wouldn’t be surprising if TLC was somehow involved. When “Shape of You” dropped in January, listeners were immediately reminded of TLC’s 1999 hit “No Scrubs,” which Kandi and Tiny wrote after being in multiplatinum R&B group XscapeGirl Meets World star Samantha Carpenter was even inspired to perform a “Shape of You”/”No Scrubs” mashup.

#ShapeOfYou #1 @majorgirl 🤑

A post shared by Kandi Burruss (@kandi) on

Vanessa Bell Calloway's "Sexty" 60th Birthday Party [VIDEO]

Vivica A. Fox and Vanessa Bell Calloway

Vivica A. Fox and Vanessa Bell Calloway

On Saturday, March 18, 2017, I attended Vanessa Bell Calloway's Sexty 60th Birthday party at the Cicado Club in Los Angeles. Vanessa Bell Calloway kicked off her This Is My Sexty campaign for Women's History Month to encourage women to share their secrets to mental, physical and spiritual well-being. Visit HowDoYouRockYourAge.com to learn more about her campaign. Currently, Calloway stars in the hit series Saints & Sinners (Bounce) and recently joined the cast of the STARZ hit Survivor's Remorse in a recurring role.

It is very clear, that 60 never looked so good. Vanessa's party was a pink and grand affair. From the candy bar to the elegant red carpet, everyone who attended had a wonderful time. Some of the attendees include: Vivica A. Fox, Tina Knowles, Star Jones, Debbie Allen, Glen Turman, Jackee' Harry, Kym Whitley, Richard Lawson, James Pickens Jr., Vanessa Williams and many more!

Check out our Studio Q event coverage below:

 

Quencie Interview Robert C. Riley

I interviewed Rob C. Riley at a bowling charity event for Sickle Cell Disease.  You may remember him from VH1's Hit The Floor or from Broadway because he's done both.  He also has a master's degree in acting. Check out my conversation with Rob below. 

Quencie Interviews Charles Michael Davis

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I interviewed Charles Michael Davis at the Merge Summit. Find out what he said when I asked him how to manage his faith and his acting job in entertainment. Watch below. 

Tyra Banks to Return as Host of VH1’s ‘America’s Next Top Model’

According to Variety, Tyra Banks is returning to host “America’s Next Top Model,” which has been renewed for another season by VH1.  Banks — who created the reality competition series — took a one-season hiatus from hosting “America’s Next Top Model” when the show moved to VH1 from the CW for its most recent season, but remained executive producer and appeared throughout the season, while Rita Ora served as host.

The news comes just days after Banks was announced as the new host of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” which will see the departure of long-time host Nick Cannon.  “I’m overwhelmed and humbled by the intensity of the ‘ANTM’ fan base whose deep affection for the show led me to have a change of heart,” said Banks in a statement. “After giving it a lot of thought, I realized that remaining behind the camera wasn’t enough because ‘ANTM’ is woven into my DNA.”

“Tyra has always been the heart and soul of the franchise and her absence was deeply felt by our fiercely loyal fans who missed their Queen of the Smize. We’d like to thank Rita Ora for being a great partner and total pro. She infused this new iteration of ‘ANTM’ with passion and creativity and we wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors,” said executive producer Ken Mok, who created the global franchise with Banks.

After running for 12 years and 22 cycles on the CW and its predecessor UPN, “America’s Next Top Model” was cancelled by the CW and ended its run on the network in December 2015. VH1 then picked up the series without Banks hosting, though she and Mok were integral in the creative re-development of the series.

Around the same time that “Top Model” ended on CW, Banks left her own syndicated talk show “FABLife,” which was then cancelled after one season. At the time, Banks said she was leaving the daytime show to focus on her cosmetics line, Tyra Beauty. Banks has always been keen to the idea of returning to “Top Model” — before VH1 revived the show, the media mogul told Variety she would not be surprised if “ANTM” returned and she’d have to think about returning as host, saying, “I would definitely produce. I just have to talk to the new partners about being on camera. One thing that I have learned is that alignment is key and you have to be aligned with your partners. When you’re not, things can go very awry. So if not, then maybe I would have somebody else do it.”

VH1’s new season of “Top Model,” which marks the 24th cycle, will begin production this summer. “America’s Got Talent” also airs during the summer season on NBC. Banks will be pulling double duty hosting both “Top Model” and “AGT,” and she’s also serving as an on-camera mentor on NBC’s upcoming business entrepreneur reality competition “Funded,” which has not landed a premiere date yet.

Sidebar: Once upon a time ago I worked at The Tyra Banks Show. It was one the first big shows I worked on after moving to LA.

Animo Westside Waves Presents The 1st Annual Film Festival and Awards

Tammi Rashonda Bembry with one of her students from the Film Festival

Tammi Rashonda Bembry with one of her students from the Film Festival

I was invited to cover the first annual film festival at Animo Westside Middle School and oh what fun it was. I was honored to get a chance to talk to all these wonderful young people about their films on the red carpet. These students wrote, directed, acted, did cinematography, and produced these films all by themselves.  The theme of their films were kindness and paying it forward. The students along with their awesome teacher Tammi Rashonda Bembry put a lot of work and effort into their films and I was thrilled to chat with them about it for Studio Q. Watch below! 

Quencie Interviews Goapele

I interviewed music artist Goapele (pronounced gwa-puh-lay), which means “to move forward” in Setswana on the red carpet of Robi Reed's annual Sunshine Beyond Celebration event.  Check out our conversation below as she talks about collaborating with Snoop Dogg.  Watch below. 

Jordan Peele is First Black Writer-Director With a $100M Movie Debut

According to MSN, Get Out" director Jordan Peele made history when he became the first African-American writer-director to earn $100 million with his debut movie.  

In its third weekend of release, the horror-satire continued to show long legs despite strong competition from two big blockbusters, "Logan" and "Kong: Skull Island." The film only saw a 25 percent drop off from the previous weekend to hold to an estimated $21 million, bringing its domestic cume to an estimated $111 million.

Not only did Peele, who produced as well as wrote and directed "Get Out," achieve the milestone with a $4 million budget and a largely unknown cast, he set a new studio record for Blumhouse in the process. "Get Out" only needed 16 days for its domestic cume to pass the nine-digit mark. That breaks the record set by Blumhouse's other 2017 hit, "Split," which reached $100 million in 19 days.

Horror movies usually rely on a strong opening weekend for the majority of their box office haul, after which they hit a substantial drop-off in subsequent weeks. Not so for "Get Out." The Universal/Blumhouse film was expected by trackers to make $24 million in its opening weekend. Instead, "Get Out" ended up beating that projection in both its first and second weekends, posting a $34 million opening before dropping off to $28 million in week two.