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Q&A with the Cast of the Original Netflix Series “Dear White People”

Dear White People, the film (and now the Netflix series) have both been very controversial for shedding light on ways racism manifests in subtle ways. The storyline shows that even in modern times, racism describes a system of disadvantage based on race. Like the movie, the tv series takes place at a fictional predominantly white ivy league school, Winchester. While on campus it introduces the black collegiates rooming in the Armstrong Parker dorms. Dear White People gives off a nostalgic 90’s vibe, that reminds you of classics such as A Different World and Higher Learning. The dialogue, framing and overall vibe is fun, dramatic, and hilarious while effectively conveying meaningful messages to the audience.

I had the pleasure with speaking with cast members Brandon B Bell (Troy), Justin Simien (Director), Ashley Blaine Featherson (Joelle) and Antoinette Robertson (Coco) on the controversy surrounding the show and what we can expect during the upcoming series. We had a chance to discuss their roles, get up close and personal, and vibe with the cast.

How were you to able to naturally project yourself into your role/ character and connect with them?

Justin-Just as a writer, trying to tell the truth and be as honest as I would be. I mean listen, It was a hyper reality, it was a satire. It was trying to be as real as I could be with these issues and try to get the dirt under the fingernails. In every episode, these characters are dealing with things that honestly they rather keep private. If the camera was on them, they wouldn’t want you to see it. (Lol)

Ashley– That’s so true.

Justin– It was definitely a goal of how we can tell story that people can feel, think, and talk about in private, but have never quite seen in a show before.

Brandon– I think for me, I went to a predominantly white school. So Troy are not to far off as far as term similarities I have. As an artist, being apart of rich storytelling, complex characters, that’s the crème de la crème…you know what I mean? That fit with my experience. If not my exact experience, it’s definitely not too far off. I think for me as a black actor, the diversities of our experiences presented on screen are rare. The opportunity to present something I haven’t really seen before, it just made so much sense and it was just so familiar in so many way.. all of the characters. I see myself, there is little bits of me  in each character. Troy being a black man, at a predominantly white school having just expectations, It felt like revisiting different parts of myself. It was easy in that sense and fun and exciting to be apart of something I haven’t really seen too much before since like a Different world.

Antionette– There is also so much heart and these characters are so layered and multi dimensional, that it’s so real…that there is no way we couldn’t do it justice. We want people to identify with them, but the most important thing was we were having these moments…We were really having these moments! These relationships are cultivated in such a way that you identify with someone and it resonates with you..so I feel that it was easy! This gentleman (Justin) and Our group of writers, they are so good and it’s so well cast. We just gelled together in a way, that it felt so real in every moment..that when you feel it that there are going to be moments when you’re going to be like aww or omg I would it! You’re going to have this real experience, I can’t wait for you guys to see all of it.

Brandon– Everyone knows a Troy, you know a Coco, you know a Sam, you know a Lionel…for sure.

Antionette– you know one.. (everyone laughs)

Ashley– Definitely..Definitely do.

Now you talk about the controversy, like far as the name, What would have been the second alternate name, instead of  Dear White People?

Justin: The first title was 2 Percent. It was called 2 Percent because is about the population of black kids at the white college. I felt that it was too sleepy of a title to be honest and Sam in the movie had this radio show called dear white people. I started this twitter account to test out her jokes and I was just was like, I think I this is the title. People are going to respond to it and it’s going to be a knee jerk reaction for some people, but they’re going to be talking. Like when the so called controversy and quote on quote boycott happened, which wasn’t real either…over the teaser announcement. The truth is more people knew about that show because of the quote on quote controversy than they would of the title 2 percent because it’s a little sleeper there. From the minute you hear that title, you have an emotional response. Even if that emotional response is; I’m not watching this, that’s all part of what the show is about and trying to say. Alot of people who love us go the YouTube comment and are like… ok I already knew this show need to exist, but now I know it really needs to exist. It works on another level in a way that I think it’s worth whatever controversy comes from it. I stand by that title.

Whole cast– That it does..it really does!

It works on another level in a way that I think it’s worth whatever controversy comes from it. I stand by that title.

Me:-Love it, Love it.

So I have one more question for you guys..so just like with the black face that happened in the show, is there anything else like far as any big controversial, traumatizing things that may happen or that you want to tackle?

Justin– I’m not telling (LOL)

Everyone– laughs

Ashley– * sings I will never tell

Justin-I will tell you this.. There’s a lot of stuff we didn’t get too this season and I’m dying to get to it. I personally interested in the dynamics on the faculty level on this campus, I want to learn about the black kids that don’t live in Armstrong Parker, and also.. That’s all I’m going to say, you’ll just have to wait and see.

I hope you enjoyed this interview with the lovely cast of Dear White People and check out the first season now streaming on Netflix. You will not be disappointed. Until next time!

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Event Recap: Welcome to The Wake Up

On April 21st, 2017, D.C. was officially “awakened,” with the launch of Meet the Curator (MTC), a new D.C. based athleisure and lifestyle brand aimed to encourage people to curate their lives how they see fit. The “Wake Up” serves as a symbolic representation of what made one take a leap of faith to go after their goals and dreams (i.e. what they pursue in their awakening of self).

The brainchild of founder, Kevin Nmah, “Meet the Curator” desired to create a brand that focused on people curating their lives how they see fit. In addition, he wanted to develop a line promoting originality and personal investment. Featuring primarily tees and hats, the MTC apparel is printed with taglines like “real > cool,” “get dat doe,” and “pay yourself first.”

The first 70 guests of the event received a Journal from the MTC team, to encourage them to write down their dreams/goals, and there was an entire wall dedicated for guests to share how they are currently (or would like to) curate their future.

“I wanted people to actually WAKE UP, WRITE DOWN THEIR DREAMS, and WORK like hell until they’ve achieved their goal.” – Kevin Nmah, Founder

The launch was showcased through a party at Bourbon restaurant, located in Adams Morgan (2321 18th St NW, Washington, DC, VA 20009, and featured music from DJ Brannu.

Check out some moments from the event:

 

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3 DC R&B Artists to Support

So often, you hear artists from certain areas like Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles getting love nationally, but never any from D.C. Why is that? Is it lack of exposure? Is it mainstream just not trying to even look our way? Is it lack of support from our own? It could be this and more, but I, for one, feel like our city has a bevy of talent that rivals and even usurps what we’re hearing today. In this article, I will shine the spotlight on three individuals, from our Nation’s Capital, that deserve a listen and, even more important, your support.

Kevin Ross

You may have already heard this talented young fella on the radio lately with his smash groove, “Long Song Away”, but on his debut album on Motown titled “The Awakening”, Ross is out to prove that he’s not to be associated with ‘one-hit wonder’. Though his age says he’s young, you do not hear it when you listen to this album. Along with his dope vocal skills, songs like the aforementioned “Long Song Away”, the slick and charming “Don’t Go”, and the inspirational “Be Great” make it evident that this a man that has studied his craft and surely respects it. Aside from Raheem Devaughn, this album is the first one in a long time that I thoroughly enjoyed and now bump on the regular. I’m excited to see what the future has in store for this fellow Washingtonian.

 

Oddissee

I’ve been on this dude for a minute now and, while he doesn’t fit into the traditional R&B peg, this D.C.-born, P.G. County-raised rapper/producer/sometimes singer reminds me of a J. Cole as far as content and solid lyrical flow. His production is soulful, melodic, and puts you in a zone that you won’t want to get out of. Oddissee has various albums that feature vocals and just instrumentals like “The Beauty In It All” and “Rock Creek Park” out that I strongly urge you to check out, but his recent release, “The Iceberg” will tell you all that I’ve been saying and more from the first track to the last. “Things” and “Digging Deep” are my personal favorite joints. I’ll even go as far as to say this dude is Goodguy Certified, which is an honor I don’t give regularly! He’s the truth. Trust me on this!

Maimouna Youssef

Another respected artist that has been in the game for a while, but is just getting the love she’s been long deserving of nationwide. Also known as Mumu Fresh, I’ve been a fan of hers ever since first seeing her at the U Street Music Hall opening up for Bilal. With an off-the-charts vocal range and eye-raising lyrical delivery, Youssef is one of the District’s beloved rising starts, not to mention that she’s also Grammy-nominated, from her work in 2007 with The Roots, and has also toured with Common. Her recent project, Metamorphosis, only continues to prove that.

So when you’re looking for good music, you need look no further than your own backyard.

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6 Must See Shows in DC This May

May feels like just a taste of what the DMV will have to offer this summer for music. Get it in early: based on these six upcoming shows, the next few months will be something to remember!

Broccoli City Festival V at the Gateway Pavilion

BROCCOLI CITY FESTIVAL V HEADLINED BY RAE SREMMURD & SOLANGE with 21 Savage, Alunageorge, Lil Yachty, Kevin Abstract, Rapsody, Smino, Chaz French, Nick Grant, Rejjie Snow, Sir the Baptist, and NAO.

The mission is simple: to “redefine the cool” towards people being active and engaged participants in their community. Every year this festival gets bigger and better, and this fifth installment is NO exception. Aside from the incredible line up and exceptional host of vendors on Saturday May 6, the Broccoli City team has a full week of amazing activities planned including a 5k run, a two day interactive conference and an all night art escape. This week is one not to be missed. For more information and tickets, head to the Broccoli City website A.S.A.P. https://www.bcfestival.com. 

Justine Skye at A.I.

Justine Skye is relative new comer on the scene, but don’t let purple hair fool you: she has the chops and the swagger to back it up. The RocNation songstress will support her latest project, “8 Ounces“, with a headlining tour kicking off right here in our Nation’s Capitol. The show, presented by Nu Androids Music and Mitch Mathis, will be held at the unique and intimate A.i. on May 11. For tickets, head to http://justineskye.com/tour/.

T.I. Hustle Gang Tour. T.I. Presents: The Hustle Gang Tour at the Howard Theater

D.C’s not really The North, not really The South, so it is totally appropriate to enjoy them both and everything in between. GRAMMY award-winning TIP is coming to D.C. with The Hustle Gang featuring Yung Booke, London Jae, Shauntrell Pender, RaRa, Translee & Young Dro. Atlanta’s Trap Music is sure to be represented on May 4th at the Howard Theater (pronounced Thee-A-tur). “What You Know” about that? Get your tickets now right here

Capleton at the Howard Theater 

For the Caribbean Massive, Capleton is sure to bring a piece of Jamaica to our doorsteps. Live and direct, Jamaica’s son will be sure to light the place up with classics like “Who Dem” and “Jah Jah City”. If you’ve ever been to the Howard Theater and you know Reggae and Dancehall music, you also know that this night will be full of culture and vibes. Do what you gotta do beforehand, but don’t forget your flag. Tickets are available for the May 23 show here.

The Weeknd at the Verizon Center 

Perhaps you feel like you’ve “Earned It” and want to splurge. The “Starboy” himself, The Weeknd, is coming to Verizon Center on May 18. On the heels of his critically claimed album, The Weeknd will descend upon the DMV for the Starboy: Legend of the Fall 2017 World Tour. The two-time GRAMMY award winner will be joined by Belly and 6lack for what promises to be an unforgettable show. Tickets are still available from Ticketmaster here.

Trey Songz at the Warner Theater

The DMV’s own Trey Songz presents the Tremaine Tour on May 14. Prepare for a good time, with old classics like “Neighbors Know My Name” and “Can’t Be Friends” along with a set filled with new songs off of his newly released album Tremaine The Album. The GRAMMY nominated R&B powerhouse is sure to have the ladies feeling like a “#1Fan” and have the guys feeling like a “Playboy”. Tickets for the show are available from Live Nation here.

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Lyquin- Benefits ft. Shy Glizzy (Official Video)

Lyquin dropped his new hot music video for Benefits ft. Shy Glizzy. Check it out!

 

 

 

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SPOTTED: Trina at Bliss

Trina was all smiles while performing at Bliss Nightclub Saturday night.

 

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SPOTTED: Jim Jones and La La Anthony at Bliss

Jim Jones and La La Anthony were both spotted at BlissNightclub Saturday night.

La La Anthony didn’t let the partying stop on Saturday, she was also spotted looking fab at Dirty Martini on Sunday.

 

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SPOTTED: Trey Songz and Young Dolph

Trey Songz hanging out at Gryphon for Gryphon Sunday’s.

 

 

Young Dolph performing at Bliss on Saturday night.

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SPOTTED: Bernice Burgos, Miss DC USA Kara McCullough, and Seven of Bad Girls Club

Bernice Burgos, Miss DC USA Kara McCullough, and Seven of Bad Girls Club were all spotted out partying at Gryphon on Sunday!

 

Bernice looking gorgeous in white

 

Miss DC USA Kara McCullough rocking her beautiful curls

 

Seven of Bad Girls Club keeping it classy in black

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Spotted: Fab Takes Over DC!

Fabolous was spotted performing at Bliss NightClub on Saturday night, partying it up at Dirty Martini Bar Sunday, and Capitale Sunday night!

 

Fab getting a selfie in at Bliss

Dressed to impress at Dirty Martini Bar

And straight coolin at Capitale

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