Zendaya Replaced by Alexandra Shipp in Aaliyah Biopic

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I posted a few weeks ago about Zendaya Coleman being cast as the leading role in the controversial biopic of late singer, Aaliyah.  Since then,  she’s gracefully bowed out due to some harsh criticism from Aaliyah fans and push back from the singer’s family.

It’s no secret that Aaliyah’s family is doing everything they can to halt production and have publicly stated that they will block Lifetime from obtaining rights to the singer’s music.   The family has gone on record and is determined to not only cast an A-list actress as the lead, but to have it released on the big screen, similar to Tina Turner’s,  What’s Love Got to Do With It.  

Despite the controversy,  Lifetime has moved forward in casting actress Alexandra Shipp as the new lead and talk show host, Wendy Williams, has spilled the beans about being the new Executive Producer for the film.  Shipp was recently named the lead actress in VH1’s Drumline sequel and she’s been featured in Disney’s,  Victorious.

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To put rumors to rest, Zendaya released a statement in a series of videos via Instagram,  which stated:

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Let me just explain something. The reason why I chose not to do the Aaliyah movie had nothing to do with the haters or people telling me that I couldn’t do it, I wasn’t talented enough, or I wasn’t black enough. It had absolutely nothing to do with that.”

“The main reasons were that the production value wasn’t there, there were complications with the music rights, and I just felt like it wasn’t being handled delicately considering the situation. And I tried my best to reach out to the family on my own, and I wrote a letter, but I was unable to do so; therefore, I felt not really morally okay with moving forward with the project.”

“With all that being said, congratulations to the new woman playing Aaliyah; I only hope she does not have to deal with half the hate that I had to deal with. And remember that we are all human beings trying to do what we love to do. Let’s practice motivation and love; not discrimination and hate. All right?”

Either way,  I’m neutral on whether the leading role should be A-list or D; I just hope they do the film the right way and tastefully.   I also hope the family isn’t being driven by greed.  We shall see how this unfolds.

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First Promo Poster for 50 Shades Revealed!

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FINALLY!  There is some headway in the production of Fifty Shades of Grey!  We have been patiently waiting for a sneak peak, a glimpse, even a sign of who was cast as the infamous Mr. Grey!  Well, the lucky man is supposedly Jamie Dornan (pictured below) and the first installment of the trilogy is set to be released on Valentine’s Day 2015.  I am eagerly anticipating all three films as I was a huge fan of E.L. James’ masterpieces.  Here is the hottie, Jamie Dornan!

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

Reagan Gomez Takes a Stand on Creating Quality Roles for Women of Color!

Source: hiphoppress.com

Source: hiphoppress.com

The great thing about the entertainment world is that it gives us a chance to watch young actors and actresses grow right before our very eyes.  Back when television was filled with quality shows almost every night, the viewers had the luxury of seeing an array of skin color, mixed genders, comedy, drama, etc., but what about now?  What happened to all of those roles?  What happened to all of that diversity?  Reagan Gomez seems to have an idea! Check Out My Interview With Reagan Gomez

Dysfunctional Friends…A Film You Need to Support!

What if you were rich and larger than life…you died unexpectedly…all of your closest friends came to your funeral…and you left each of them a piece of your estate?  Furthermore, what if the only way your friends could cash in on their piece of the pie was for them to grant you your one last wish?  Want to see how a story like this ends?  You and me both!  This is the plot of Corey Grant’s new independent film, Dysfunctional Friends.

Hailing from Illinois, Corey graduated from Howard University in Washington, D.C. receiving his Master’s in Film.  Shortly after graduating he relocated to Hollywood to immerse himself in the hub of the entertainment world.  He has a couple of films under his belt, Hip Hop Task Force and Hip Hop Task Force vol 2, but his new project offers something different.  He explains, “This is the first film where I had an all-star cast, had to worry about overtime and union permits…it was also the first movie I’ve done which was strictly character driven so it was a very unique experience.”  For such a big project, I was more than curious to know how he was able to gather his all-star cast.  He held nothing back in letting me know the magical formula:

The lead producer, Datari, reached out to his friends and they reached out to their friends.  I already knew Tatyana Ali and Wesley Jonathan, Essence Atkins and Christian Keyes from another project I had in development that they were attached to, along with Meagan Good. Plus our Casting Director, Phaedra Harris, reached out and it all came together…

It seems like the perfect story thus far, but his journey to getting this film backed by a major studio was nearly impossible.  Dysfunctional Friends is an independent film, meaning that every ticket sale counts!  The film was released in select theaters in NY and LA, so if you want it to come to your city, you must demand it!  I asked Corey how the DMV can show support to ensure the film gets released right here in D.C.and here’s what he had to say:

Spread the links to the trailer online, blast it on Twitter [and Facebook], demand it and show up the opening weekend. The reason we have self distributed this movie is because all the major studios didn’t want to put the promotional money behind it because they believe our audience is unreliable unless it’s Tyler Perry.  I love and respect what Tyler is doing, but it also hurts us because studios only want to put money behind formulas.  To them, Tyler is the formula.  [Nothing] else has enough value for them to gamble promotional dollars on. That’s our audience’s fault for not supporting other quality films and only we can correct that.  Dysfunctional Friends is a different kind of movie and people are responding to it.  Prove the studios wrong and go see this movie and if you like it, tell a friend.

To come back to D.C. with his new project would add another notch under his belt, being as though his story somewhat began here.  Corey lets me know, “Oh, it’s going to be major coming back to the DMV. My time at Howard was what inspired me to write the script.”  His Director of Photography, Richard Vialet, has the honor of being a Howard alum as well.  He adds, “This is where we both started so you can imagine how excited we are!”

If you’re an aspiring writer or simply want to break into the film industry, Corey offers some advice:

You have to learn the craft.  If you don’t respect the craft you won’t be able to make quality products.  Also if you are trying  to get in it for the money, DON’T.  It takes a while to start making money and it’s a hard business filled with ups and downs. You have to love it to stick it out.  Be persistent and don’t give up.  Also, at some point you have to make that trip to Los Angeles. This is where the industry is and there is no way around it if you want this as a career and not a hobby.  Believe in yourself when no one else does.  I’m proof that it can happen because nobody let me in the game.  I had to make the industry take notice of me and then the doors opened.  Confidence, Persistence, Patience, Integrity, and Talent is what it takes.  If you have that you can’t lose.

As if he hasn’t given great insight to his world already, he ends our interview on an amazing note.  When asked what he thinks his God-given purpose in life is he said, “To touch people and spread love.  I love people and positive energy and I feel that if I exude that in my work and life, I have fulfilled my purpose.”  Despite the doors that may have closed on him, another big one certainly opened up.  Dysfunctional Friends seems like it will not only be the next big independent film to keep your eye on, but it just might give any Tyler Perry film a run for its money. Support, support support!

*Check out the movie trailer here:

*Full Cast: Stacey Dash, Reagan Gomez-Preston, Wesley Jonathan, Persia White, Jason Weaver, Stacy Keibler, Terrell Owens, Datari Turner, Hosea Chanchez, Christian Keyes, Tatyana Ali, Vanessa Simmons, Essence Atkins, Keith Robinson, Meagan Good