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WATCH THE NEW TRAILER FOR “THE CROSS OUT 3”, DUE OUT LATER THIS MONTH....

WATCH THE NEW TRAILER FOR “THE CROSS OUT 3”, DUE OUT LATER THIS MONTH....

IMG_5080.JPG

We’re thrilled to offer you a moment to view the trailer for “The Cross Out 3”. The film, which is the third in a trilogy series, is due out later this month. 

From Swish Gang Films, executive producers Swish Pzy, Calico Jonez and director Apar alongside Curtis Snow, director of “Snow in the Bluff” and assistant are releasing the third installment of the “Cross Out” trilogy which consists of “The Cross Out” and “The Cross Out 2”.

“The Cross Out” film series depicts the lives of several individuals who reside in Austin Homes Projects located in what Knoxville, TN refers to as “the gun zone” an area is known for shootings and violence. This is the backdrop for the team as they commence to take over the city through their ruthless dealings and set forth on a mission to get paid causing chaos along the way.

“The Cross Over Part 3” is a continuation of the story line taking place in Atlanta and features cast members Swish PZY, Calico Jonez, Curtis Snow, Swish Frosty and many more. View “The Cross Out Part 3” trailer below, and also at https://youtu.be/cJauzdOgNTI and be sure to follow director Swish Pzy on social media @SwishPzy (Instagram /Twitter / Facebook).

[REALITY][ON THE SCREEN] Margeaux: Spreading Her Wings

[REALITY][ON THE SCREEN] Margeaux: Spreading Her Wings

We all got to know Margeaux Simms through her role on VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta. As we all learned throughout the past season, there’s much more to Margeaux than the typical drama and ruckus often displayed on the show. Margeaux is a budding talent in music, and she had the opportunity this past season of display her new single, “Start a War”, via the show. Since showcasing that single to the world, Margeaux has since put together a steady stream of music, and is now plotting the release of her new EP. We took a few moments to talk with Margeaux about her music career, which actually has span nearly a decade now, and her new EP, her time on Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta, and all the things she has happening throughout the next year. Through this piece, you'll see just how Margeaux is spreading her wings in her career, and how she's soaring because of it. 

 

UG Digital Mag: I have to thank you so much for your time today. It’s people like you who are allowing me to follow my dream of journalism. 

 

Margeaux Simms: Awesome. Thank you for having me. 

 

UG Digital Mag: This year has proven to be amazing for you. Congrats on the success of everything you have going on. 

 

Margeaux Simms: Thank you so much. 

 

UG Digital Mag: What has it been like for you to truly be pursuing your music? People really neglected the fact that you were doing music?

 

Margeaux Simms: I’ve always been an artist, even prior to the show. I never talked about it on the show because it didn’t seem like the show promoted music so much. I felt like if it happened naturally, or if people googled me, people would find out. I had stuff out, and different projects, so it worked out. I’m glad the people who watched saw it and I was able to be introduced to them. I just happened to be on the show. I never wanted it to be like I was a reality star who suddenly started doing music. I think we see a lot of that. I did not want to cram it down anyone’s throats. 

 

UG Digital Mag: I think it’s good though. Thinking of the premise of the show, I’ve always felt as though that avenue should be there to pursue music. You’re one of the only ones I’ve seen capitalize off the situation in the right way. 

 

Margeaux Simms: Well thank you. I thought it was supposed to be about that, but that’s moreso just the title, and you get more of the love and drama. A lot of people like that, but when you have a small fanbase and you get on a bigger platform, you want it to happen organically. 

 

UG Digital Mag: Of course, everyone who has heard “Start a War” is looking for new music. It was clear that you were in acomfort zone and it was something you loved. People got that sense, and I know you have the new single, “Girl on the Left”. Can you talk a little about that?

 

Margeaux Simms: Yes. I waited on releasing it because with “Start a War”, people loved the song. I just kinda put it out. It was one out of many, and then I decided to do it on the show. I decided to put out singles because I had all these ideas for videos for each song. I’m excited for people to finally see it. 

 

UG Digital Mag: I think it’s a good strategy, putting out singles, but I think you’ll be that difference with people wanting to purchase a full album. I think people will love your music because of how different it is. 

 

Margeaux Simms: Thank you. I hope it does well. I hope people can take away from it whatever they want, and not over think it. I want them to be inspired to do their own thing. Everything you want to know about me, I put in my music. I rarely hold back anything. 

 

UG Digital Mag: When are you looking to release it?

 

Margeaux Simms: We’re looking at April for “Girl on the Left”. We keep pushing it back because I’ll do more singles, then want to do more videos. I don’t want to rush it. Putting out an EP for me is like getting a tattoo. It has to be perfect. Once it’s there, you can’t take it back. I want to feel good about it in my soul. 

 

UG Digital Mag: Do you feel like Love & Hip Hop was helpful in you getting your music out?

 

Margeaux Simms: It was a little helpful. I’ve met other cool music bloggers as a result, and they come up and talk about the music more than the drama. I can’t leave my house in New York without people approaching me, and it’s all about the music, which is good. In the marketplace, it’s more about being able to push what you do and get away from the story you weren’t able to tell. It’s reality TV, and there’s a part that’s not reality, yet, it’s trying to hold you to the character you are on the show. No on understands the psychology of it unless they do a show. When you think about it, it’s really deep psychology. I feel like reality TV is made up of genius producers who put this together the way they can market and manipulate the craft. I’ve learned a lot in business about how you can use that for yourself. 

 

UG Digital Mag: So let’s talk House of Margeaux (HOFM)!

 

Margeaux Simms: I studied design when I was in school, and I’ve always wanted to blend with fashion. Design is such an art form, and something has to give. I wanted to do that, and with music, doing my songs, and video treatments, I wanted all these amazing clothes in the videos that sometimes I couldn’t afford. I said I’ll just make what I see in my head. That’s how it came about. Then I decided to make a cool merchandise line for the music. I wanted people to know it’s really coming from me. I’m not just an artist on a big machine and now I have merchandise being sold to you. I wanted it to be organized, and I wanted people to know when they get into my music, they are also getting merchandise from me that I spent time to create and put together. HOFM is the merchandise. I showed at fashion week last year, but I just showed the merch line. I wanted it to be merchandise that people really wanted and can really get into. One day I’ll do a full collection out of it. I had more ideas I started to make while I was on the show, and then people started to ask for certain pieces. From there, I put them on the site and it took a life of it’s own. 

 

UG Digital Mag: I believe it makes your brand that much better because you’re so hands on and involved. It will do so well for you because of that. 

 

Margeaux Simms: You have to be involved, and be inspired. I have to be hands on. 

 

UG Digital Mag: What are your plans over the next year?

 

Margeaux Simms: For me, the next few singles will be released. I’ll drop the EP. I’ll be performing in Toronto and New York. I’ll also be going to Paris in August. I’ll be in New York working, and also put some things together for Fashion Week. That’s pretty much it. 

 

UG Digital Mag: I think it’s great that you’re involved in so much. Even with your involvement in SXSW. 

 

Margeaux Simms: Yes, it’s a huge platform. I’ve always wanted to be part of that. Meeting the other musicians and artists, and connecting with them is a great thing. The showcase I’m a part of is The Color Agent. It’s a great thing to see. 

 

UG Digital Mag: I’m glad you also mention being from Toronto. We’re seeing so many more people from there. 

 

Margeaux Simms: Growing up, I’d always hear people say there were black people in Canada, and we’d always laugh. We’d forget there are black people all over the world. We all come from the same places. There’s a lot of culture there. I can’t wait to perform there. 

 

UG Digital Mag: What are you most proud of about the way things have gone?

 

Margeaux Simms: I’m most proud of being able to show who I am, and for people to see that I’m an artist. I’ll always be an artist. I’m proud of fighting for my integrity. I can sleep at night. There’s nothing I did that I am ashamed of.

 

UG Digital Mag: Any final comments at all?

 

Margeaux Simms: I would say to read more. Seek the people you like and why you like them. Don’t believe everything you see on television. Be smarter, and don’t accept what’s given to you. Be your own leader and don’t take things for face value. Be your own individual. 

Walking Dead Actress, @SonequaMG, Cast As Lead In Next Star Trek Series

Walking Dead Actress, @SonequaMG, Cast As Lead In Next Star Trek Series

Star Trek Discovery - CBS

Star Trek Discovery - CBS

Sonequa Martin-Green has been cast as the series lead in Star Trek Discovery. Set 10 years prior to Captain Kirk's voyage on the Enterprise, 'Discovery' seeks to reinvigorate the Star Trek franchise  on television and launch CBS' streaming services next summer. Producers acknowledged looking for a woman of color. They were inspired, at least partly, by Nichelle Nichols from the iconic original series who played lieutenant Uhora, and the first African-American astronaut Mae Jemison.

Astronaut Mae Jemison - NASA

Astronaut Mae Jemison - NASA

We still don't know much about the premise of the new series, but CBS seems to be reaching out to a much larger and diverse audience with Discovery's recent casting. Michelle Yeoh, from 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon' fame and more, has also been cast as a captain in the series. Discovery will additionally feature the first openly gay main character. Check out UGD and Deviant Theory for more info as it comes in.

Lieutenant Uhura from Star Trek The Original Series - Paramount/CBS

Lieutenant Uhura from Star Trek The Original Series - Paramount/CBS

It Came, I Saw, But Did It Conquer? A Non-Spoiler Look At Rogue One

It Came, I Saw, But Did It Conquer? A Non-Spoiler Look At Rogue One

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Lucasfilm/Disney

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Lucasfilm/Disney

This isn't a proper review, nor is it intended to spoil any major plot points of the film. If all you've seen is the previews, you're safe.  That said, hell yes this film hit all the marks it was supposed to and most certainly conquered! You are doing yourself a diservice waiting to see this. Many of the plot points will leak out in time and you could spoil yourself from a pretty fantastic experience.

Rogue One managed to pay homage to its old fans and captivate new ones in just a few hours of film time. Unlike The Force Awakens, which had to both meet expectations of original trilogy fans and also rebuild trust after the prequels, Rogue One is free to be its own film. It did great work with that freedom, somehow being both an effective Disney film and a Star Wars story. More on that later in a spoiler review...

It's clear Disney's gamble on standalone Star Wars films have paid off. They'll be running to the bank on this one for sure, but most importantly they'll be producing solid Star Wars movies for some time to come. I'm sure you've got your own opinion and some ideas on things you loved about the movie. Feel free to share below, but no spoilers! Check me out at Deviant Theory for more nerding out, spoilers and a chance to share your feedback.

[ON THE SCREEN] MARIA HOWELL: MY BROTHER'S KEEPER

[ON THE SCREEN] MARIA HOWELL: MY BROTHER'S KEEPER

It’s been a little over a year since we had the amazing opportunity of devoting an entire issue to the cast of Sons 2 The Grave. This a film that will ask, and ultimately answer the age-old question, Am I My Brother’s Keeper? Written and produced by Lynne Stoltz of Have Faith Productions, and packing an allstar cast that includes Emmy Award winning actor Greg Alan Williams, Darrin Dewitt Henson, Brad James, Demetria McKinney, Tip "T.I." Harris' oldest son Messiah Harris, Atlantic Records Recording Artist Trevor Jackson, and NAACP winner Justin Martin, this film is set to break tremendous ground upon it’s theatrical release. Since being shot in the Atlanta area, the powers that be have been working diligently at getting this film out around the world and locking in distribution, and working to build the appropriate buzz. 

 

In this feature, we had a second chance to sit down and talk with actress Maria Howell, who arguably has some of the most pivotal moments in this film, playing the role of concerned and protective mother Ruth Jennings to the film’s lead character, played by Trevor Jackson. Her authenticity, and her willingness to fight for what was right in her heart, despite what the world saw, is the very thing that has her winning the audiences over. Her character was one that many mothers in the world will easily relate to. Ruth, in an effort to make up for an absentee father, and still be able to offer her son a sense of security, made it her life's mission to protect him from the harms of the world. She knew all to well which way his life could go, and she was destined to take him in a different direction. Unfortunately, his environment takes control, and her struggle becomes to hard to manage, and you see it play out in the film. In this feature, we went a lot deeper into the mind of Ruth Jennings, and talked a lot about the mind of this amazing character. We learn why this role was so important other in the first place, and how it affected her long after the movie was filmed. 

 

You definitely don’t want to miss this conversation. 

 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: It’s always wonderful to talk to you, but it’s especially great to catch up with you today since it’s been over a year that we connected for Sons 2 The Grave. The movie is getting such awesome reviews. 

 

Maria Howell: That is good, because I still have not seen it yet. I’m looking forward to that, so it’s a good thing to hear. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: That amazes me that you haven’t seen it yet. 

 

Maria Howell: Well, it’s because when they show it, I’m usually in another state. I’ve seen snippets though. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: It’s amazing that it was recently featured with SXSW. 

 

 

Maria Howell: I’m glad for that. Making the movie in and of itself was a big emotional thing. You only see what you shoot, and you don’t get to see the other parts. I’m always excited to see how it all comes together. I’m technical in that respect of liking to see how it was edited, and to see what was the interpretation of the editor and the writer. That excites me, so I’ve talked to Sasha, and told her I’ve got to see it. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: Sasha's doing so amazing with promotion, and it’s getting such good reviews. I’ve told her how eager I am to see it. I think it's going to do big things. 

 

Maria Howell: I’m looking forward to that as well. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: So talk about the importance in the role of Ruth Jennings for you. She was so powerful in the way she worked with her son to keep him out of trouble, and away from harm. Why was it important for you to bring this role to life?

 

Maria Howell: I’m personally not a mother, biologically, but I have a lot of children who are in my life, and I know how protective I can be, so I can only imagine how I would be as a biological mother. What attracted me, first and foremost, is it was a more in-depth role as a mother. It was very intense in the fact that here was a woman who is career oriented, and she sacrificed. I can relate on a personal level, and it makes sense to want to get so much stuff done, and get it done right and efficiently, but at the same time having this strong faith inside. That, in and of itself, is a lot. It's a lot to operate your life based on faith, and continue to do your everyday thing. Having a son, and being so determined to guide him in the right direction and protect him from whatever elements in the world I can is daunting. There’s no guarantee that you can protect anyone, and it’s proven in the movie. Ultimately in the end, she was not able to protect her son. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: A lot of times, parents have the best intentions, but in the end, the kids do what they want to do. 

 

Maria Howell: Yes, it’s like that you bring someone in this world. She was living by the faith that she believed in, and to have someone you’re guiding, but have that same level of letting that person be who they are meant to be…it may not always match with what you want them to be. That has to be a power struggle for a lot of parents. I feel it with my nieces and nephews. I don’t jump in it like their parents do, but I still have emotions about it. I have one nephew who I love to death, but he was hard-headed. Fortunately, enough seeds were planted, and he lived to see his manhood, and we’ve lived to see his manhood, and what a wonderful man and father he is. I can relate to Ruth on that level. This same nephew, I wanted to adopt and raise him as my own. I was willing to sacrifice my career for him because I loved him that much, and saw that he was in a situation where as a child, he had a lot of people around to support, but I wanted him to have stability. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: It’s amazing when people have that type of love in their heart that they can take in someone else’s child who may be going through it. My mother was able to do that with a cousin of mine. 

 

Maria Howell: It's because you let yourself go. You live for your child, and you live for that other person. I feel like I had it. That’s why in this role, Trevor and I connected from day one. Literally, I still feel like he’s my son. It’s been over a year ago, but he’s just a sweetheart.

 

U.G. Digital Mag: I’ve heard such positivity about him in this role, and as a person in general. 

 

Maria Howell: He’s a good kid, and that has a lot to do with his mother and the way she raises him. The relationship, it was easy to get into that role, and I was very happy about it because I don’t have many roles like that. Usually, I get to be the cop, the doctor, the lawyer, or the school teacher, so this was good for me to tap into motherhood and that nurturing side. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: What effect did this role have on you after it all was seemingly over?

 

Maria Howell: Wow, that’s a good question. Not to tell or give spoilers, but the very first day I shot was emotional for me. It affected me immediately in such a way to think of life and death. That was my first foray with the movie.  

 

U.G. Digital Mag: Well of course, part of it is my eagerness to see it. I’m definitely ready to see it. 

 

Maria Howell: I’m excited. I think the way it was shot, it’s going to be so sweet. I saw a clip and it looked beautiful. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: Now what else has been going on? What’s really a blessing in my eyes is that you continuously work. So many actors are often looking for more work. 

 

Maria Howell: Oh you didn’t catch me crying yesterday then (laughing). There’s an occupational hazard in this industry that when you go two days without work, and although you need to be chilling and relaxing, you start panicking for the next thing. I suffered from that for years with singing. If I went two weeks without a gig, I was worried. You have to sit still and relax. The reason I stay busy is like I tell everyone. Diversify your portfolio. What I mean by that is I do voiceovers, I do narrations for audio books, I do commercials, TV and film, and then I sing. I have something to do everyday of the week if I allow myself to. There’s the visibility of that, and then when I’m not working, I’m out supporting somebody’s play. I love theater, but I tend to not do it because there’s a vacuum of time you have to devote. Then my gig comes up and I have to go sing. That’s the only reason, because it will always be a conflict with singing, unless I just take that time off. I haven’t done that in a long, long time. It seems like I work all the time, but there are times that I’m pulling the rest of this little afro out (laughing). 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: You probably need that time though. 

 

Maria Howell: I really do. Fortunately, I’m coaching and consulting on the side, and I can only fit it into certain gaps. That’s what I’ve wanted to do for a lot of years, is do some seminars. This gives me the downtime to plan it, to be able to organize myself, put it on paper, and pull the resources together to make it happen. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: How has your music been going?

 

Maria Howell: It’s going great. I’m a jazzer. Between the west coast and east coast, I’m performing. I have a standing gig in L.A. that I do once a month. I’ll be adding some more performances to L.A., and then I also have the south-eastern region, where I have museums I go to every year. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: You spoke of that last time being in North Carolina. 

 

Maria Howell: Right, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. I’ll be in Jacksonville in May, July I’ll be back in Charlotte, North Carolina, and we have planned dates. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: I think it’s great. 

 

Maria Howell: I love it. It can be a dinner show, cabaret show at a club, or a show at a museum. I love that kind of performing. It keeps me alive. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: It’s amazing, and you show so many other actors and actresses that the work it out there. You just have to go get it. 

 

Maria Howell: You have to figure out where you fit. I have a lot of years in it, so I’ve established relationships, and there’s always new stuff popping up, but I tell people all the time, you can do it. Figure out your starting point, and don’t try to compare yourself to someone else. Do what you can do, and grow from that point. Too often, people look at someone else saying they can’t do it like that. Maybe it’s not meant to do it like that. If I had done that I would have been disappointed a long time ago (laughing). I’m trying to be happy and do what I’m good at. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: It’s also about maintaining relationships. 

 

Maria Howell: Yes, that is so key. Networking is not just passing a card to someone. Maybe that’s where it starts, but you need to build the relationship and build trust. Sometimes, it takes time. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: What are you most proud of with your journey?

 

Maria Howell: That I’m still doing it. I know you’re asking about a specific project. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: Not really. I mean even in terms of overall growth. 

 

Maria Howell: That’s a given…well, you know what, let me back that up. Everybody does not grow. I take that for granted. I have grown leaps and bounds. The growth for me from where I see it is that I have grown to be more comfortable in my own skin. I’m able to say yes, and more importantly say no to things I don’t want to force myself into. The outside indication is when I get to a show, and people say I used to come and hear you 25 years ago. First I think, Oh god, how old am I (laughing)? Second thing I’m thinking is thank you so much, because this one lady said I was good, but she has seen my growth and I have come into my own. That’s someone who’s been watching me over 20 years. For her to say it, it’s got to have some truth to it. I’m most proud of being comfortable in my own skin. Even though I’m still growing, I’m more comfortable, I’m more relaxed and more solid in saying this is me. This is who I am. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: That has a lot to do with why you get the roles you do. You started in The Color Purple obviously, and it was a small role, but look at how you’ve grown, and the quality of the roles you play now. You’re someone like Ruth Jennings, who will relate to so many people. 

 

Maria Howell: …and also has something to say that really matters. There’s a scene in Sons 2 The Grave where she is talking to a crowd of people, and I like that scene a lot. It’s pretty cool for me. When I was a kid, I always wanted to have something to say in life, something to impart on people that was positive. I really felt that in that particular scene. God is really amazing. It's great when you can think of things and they later come to fruition. Most times, I know things are good when I’m in it. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: That’s the best feeling in the world, to dream up something, and later in life, you see it happen. 

 

Maria Howell: I think the key to that is being true to yourself. Just because everyone thinks I work all the time, it’s not like that. I get turned down sometimes, and I say no to things. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: That’s the good thing with you though. 

 

Maria Howell: I ain’t got time to be turning things down, but I do turn some things down if it does not fit my fabric. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: That’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned in myself. As much as I wanted UGD to flourish, and me wanting to talk to so many people, I still have to say no sometimes. I had an overall standard for the magazine that I was going for, and I see how often the media is portrayed, and how we often portray ourselves as black media. I think we often want the respect, but don't present ourselves in the manner to get that respect, or we don't hold ourselves in that same light we want to be seen in. 

 

Maria Howell: There’s a cliche that said if you don't stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. That’s true, and you’re doing the same thing. You have a desire in your gut and you intuition and integrity. That’s your code. That’s your standard. I applaud people who at least have one. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: It’s difficult sometimes though. Sometimes, I’ve turned someone down, and then think about it later. 

 

Maria Howell: You have to turn them down sometimes though. Something you said makes me go back to Ruth Jennings. She stood for what she believed in whether it was right, wrong, indifferent, or whatever. She stood for that, and people respected her on her job. Her son respected her. People in the community respected her because they knew she was solid and consistent. That resonated with me in my life. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: That makes me want to see the film even more. 

 

Maria Howell: She was a solid person in that movie. Her son had that to look up to. He had that as his gauge, and she had something to say. People respected her. That was another big part of that role for me. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: In terms of final thoughts and words of encouragement, what would you like to get out there?

 

Maria Howell: First and foremost, I want to give kudos and shout outs to the creative people behind the scenes. There’s no way we can do what we do if we don’t have the writers providing good material. There’s so many different parts of the puzzle, and I appreciate all the different pieces. I make sure when I’m on the set, I thank that camera man. I thank the writers, and other actors. It’s all a team effort and we're telling a story. It’s all art so I like, from an actor’s standpoint, to tell those creative people thank you.  I thank the people who come and support, because life is short, and we’ve lost so many people in the past six months that it’s like oh my god, please don’t tell me about someone else. This is a way in life for me personally to have something as hope; something as inspiration. I’m a little idealistic, so any way I can make it through and have something to take me out of that everyday reality, it’s thought-provoking. That’s what art is supposed to be. I thank all the people involved and the viewers, because it’s not simple and easy. Some of us are in it to be stars, but a lot of us are not. We’re just in here trying to do what we love. That’s a thought that’s on my mind these days. Art! Just let’s make it happen, let’s move it forward, and let’s get better and better. I encourage all people who have stories to tell to write. Don’t wait for anyone to write for you. Write! Move forward and keep it moving.

 

To stay up to date with the film, visit their social media at:

Twitter: @Sons2TheGrave

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Sons-2-The-Grave-The-Movie-736692043080737/

[ON the SCREEN] TRACI BRAXTON: DESTINY FULFILLED

[ON the SCREEN] TRACI BRAXTON: DESTINY FULFILLED

We had the pleasure of catching up with Traci Braxton as she prepped for the return of Braxton Family Values this past week! We had a good talk with Traci, as she talked about the show, as well as her new album that she's been promoting and everything else going on in her life right now. Tracy's got some good things going, including the work she's doing with the United Negro College Fund and her efforts to spotlight Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, the effects it has had on her family and her son being diagnosed, as well as how they have been able to conquer the disease. You're definitely in for a treat with this feature. 

 

Click HERE to access Destiny Fulfilled!

[On the Screen] Sierra Alston: She Got Game

[On the Screen] Sierra Alston: She Got Game

We recently had the chance to chat with Sierra Alston, formerly of the reality show, She's Got Game!. Who would have thought that right after our conversation, she would exit the show in the midst of productions.

Not sure any of us saw that coming, Nevertheless, we had a pretty good conversation, and you can catch that interview below, right HERE at Urban Grandstand Digital!

[REALITY] Patrice Curry: The New Reality

[REALITY] Patrice Curry: The New Reality

Just as the 4th season has recently ended for VH1's Basketball Wives, we had the opportunity of catching up with Patrice Curry. Curry joined the franchise this season, and as most know, is married to former NBA player Eddie Curry. Without a doubt, Patrice is perfect for our magazine and the message we often aim to push within our articles, interviews, and features. As the title suggests, she is defiantly giving us a new reality. With much of reality television today, and definitely the Basketball Wives franchise, there is an endless supply of drama delivered in each gut-punching episode. Clearly, it sells rather well, and there's a large number of people who are interested in that sort of thing. At the same time, there's an equal, if not larger, number of people who are interested in seeing something more. Frankly, the drama, fighting, high school name-calling, and all else becomes a bit tired after a while. I think that's what makes Patrice's story a little different, and a little more enjoyable. Obviously, she's had her own level of drama in her life over the years, but as you can sense in the few episodes we saw her in, along with reading our conversation, she's arrived at a place that doesn't require the negativity. She's in a happy place, and working to build multiple brands that will ultimately elevate her to greater heights. One would think that would be the goal for all parties involved, but that seemingly ends up not being the case most of the time. 

 

Patrice and I had an awesome conversation, and we talked about a variety of things, starting with this season of BBWLA, and leading into the many projects and ventures she and Eddie are tackling. We also talk about her ability to open up to the world about Eddie's infidelity, and how she was able to move forward and rebuild her marriage to what it is today. She gave is her reality, one that while there are other's who experience it, it's still new in the sense that she's bringing it to us with class. Continue scrolling down to read the full exclusive right here at Urban Grandstand Digital!

 

 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Thank you so much for your time. It’s nice to be able to catch up with you on so many levels. You’ve got a variety of things happening for you. I truly appreciate you today… There’s so many things I want to cover with you today. I especially want to talk about brand. It only makes sense for us to talk a little about BBW because right now, this is where many of your new fans and followers are seeing you. What we won’t do it get into the fights and things of that nature. We definitely like to stay on a trail of positivity. I think that at this stage of the game, you have a brand that you not only want to push, but more importantly maintain. Not even to knock the show in any way because it definitely has it’s entertainment value, but seeing the past seasons and the level of intensity regarding drama, what prompted you to take part in the series for the 4th season?

 

Patrice Curry: I honestly just wanted to be the change in what I was seeing. I was hoping that my presence would be enough for me to be there and interact with the ladies, while bringing something different to the show. That was my objective. I really did it because I am working on branding myself, and thought it would be a good platform for me to get started. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: I’ve looked at reality television in so many different ways, and my mindset has been the same in a sense. I felt it would be nice to have something different, in a way that deflects from the drama you see, and be that change. On the same token, did you feel people would take to that, or your personality?

 

Patrice Curry: I think that I was hopeful. I have it to God, and talked to him about it. I felt like if it was supposed to be for me, then it would be for me. I can’t control the way people see me or perceive me, or even how they fell about me. I can only be myself, and hopeful that someone finds appreciation in that. My objective was to help another woman who was in a similar situation as me. I wish I had the help when I was going through it. It’s a tough situation, but I’m not the first woman to go through it, and I won’t be the last until society changes. I don’t know if it ever will. I was just trying to help someone else out by using my story to give them a boost and let them know you can get through anything. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: I think that’s true, and it’s good. A lot of people appreciate the way you were able to let people into your life and allow them to see your truth, regardless of what it was. The fact that you opened up and shared about the infidelity was major. How difficult was it for you to share it?

 

Patrice Curry: You know, at this stage in my life it wasn’t difficult to share it at all. There were times that I was filming and talking to the girls about things, and of course this was cut out, but there were times that I was crying in my talks, or feeling my pain on some levels and thinking of where I had come from and where I was. It has its ups and downs, but I knew I was using it to give God the glory and not just to get fame out of it. If someone can take from what I was saying and use it to get to the next level, that was my objective. I had a good response from people, and I feel like I did that. Even if it only touched one person, one is more than none. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: I would think it was equally as difficult bring the kids into the light, especially consider Eddie’s son who was obviously conceived through the infidelity. How do you feel this has affected him, and most importantly, do you think that it has helped in any way?

 

Patrice Curry: The kids weren’t around during the filming process much of the time. That part was showing that we are still a family. It was more fun stuff for them. They don’t deal with adult issues. We try to keep them out of grown folk’s business, so to speak. They are not affected in that way. They are big kids, and they do see television. They do ask questions, although Basketball Wives isn’t a show that I allow them to watch. It didn’t hurt them. They like the spotlight, and they had a good time. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: I think visibly, people saw that you weren’t involved in every episode. Was that intentional, or how did it play out regarding your involvement. 

 

Patrice Curry: When I started filming, I was supposed to be a full time cast member, and as it went on, my husband decided he didn’t want to do anymore. The show didn’t want me without him, so that’s how that worked out. I guess had I been more active, and more troublesome maybe, they would have felt differently. I feel like I’ve come a long way in life. I used to be a hot head, and I have worked hard to balance the out. I didn’t feel the need to go back. I didn’t really have anyone coming at me for it to be an issue. It’s hard to fight when there’s no-one fighting with you. I would have loved to be on longer to share more, because it’s a lot left out, but it is what it is. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: I think a lot of people appreciate the direction you came from. I know you’ve seen reality television, and you knew of BBW prior. The drama obviously sells, and a lot of people like it, but there’s an equal amount of people who want to see more than that. They want to see people capitalize the way they should, go to the next level, and build their brands. You’re showing people there’s more to reality TV and they’ve been able to see your true life. 

 

Patrice Curry: Oh, well that’s good. I’m glad to hear that. I was a little worried. Thing would come across in how I was perceived. I know it’s not for everybody. I am in no way promoting that if you’re being cheated on, staying in that relationship and working it out. That’s not what I’m saying, but we were both very young. We were both growing and learning. He was fresh out of high school and into the league. You can’t hold people hostage by their past when they have asked for forgiveness, and they are changed and being a better person. We had a lot of rocky times but we persevered. We got through it, and there were times I hated him and wasn’t bothered with him. We weren’t together going strong the entire time. I hope it didn’t come off the I was just at home twittling my thumbs while he did his thing. It was never that, but the heart wants what it wants. I believe that the fact I had children with this man meant I at least needed to put forth the effort to try and keep them as one, and keep us together. I don’t take marriage lightly. I tried to do what I could do and fight through it. If he were still the same, it would be a different story that you saw. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Now in terms of the show, do you see yourself returning since it has been renewed?

 

Patrice Curry: I’m not coming back. He definitely does not want to return and I have to respect that. They don’t want me alone, so I won’t be back on the show. I am working on other things. A lot of me got list in the translation as far as the show went. I do a lot of things. I’m a very creative person. I write, and I have a children’s book. I’m currently translating to Spanish so I can market it to the hispanic community, who has a lot of the same issues as a lot of us, as far as losing a loved one. I’m writing another book, and my husband and I are writing a book together. I had a meeting last week with an entertainment company. We’re working on some TV shows that I’ve written. I’m working on getting things going. I’ve been a mother all this time, and my youngest just started attending school this year. I knew that once the show aired, I could hit the pavement running, and not have to worry about my children. That had a lot to do with why I wasn’t doing as much as I could. I felt like my responsibility was to raise my children and not have someone else doing it. My mother is deceased, so it’s not like I had her to help me. We’re in talks of doing our own reality series, being a family show that is something positive. There will be times of course, where the kids are arguing, or we’re arguing. It’s real life, so I’m sure there’s plenty of entertainment, but just not on a level where families can’t watch it together. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: That’s good. You obviously have a few shows like that and are more positive, but there’s a lot of room for more. There’s a lot of people who really want to see it. People will look forward to that. 

 

Patrice Curry: I’m excited about it. I haven’t told the kids yet. You tell them something, and they don’t stop talking about it. I’m excited though, and we’re ready to move forward. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: I’m glad you mention your other ventures, because you also do art. You have a lot of beautiful pieces the you’ve been putting on Instagram. Obviously, this is something you love doing and it speaks to you in a particular way, given the fact you don’t sell your artwork. In what way does it help you in relieving stress? Do you see yourself eventually selling them?

 

Patrice Curry: Well, I sold a few of them. It’s really hard to sell them though. I need to detach myself from them. My brother is a drummer her in LA. He and a friend of his made an album. It’s a 10-LP collection. I’m working on my tenth painting. We’re going to have an artist talk where we sit, invite a small amount of people, let them vibe off the music and talk about it. I like artsy stuff like that. Those images I will sell. I have about 10 that are like my personal ones, and maybe another 5 that I will sell as well. I’m working on it. I like them se much I don’t want to get rid of them, but I will. I just have to move forward with it. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: It shows the amount of talent you have. People who have seen it really love it. That’s why I questioned you selling them. U can understand and appreciate you not wanting to get rid of them because of how personal they become. 

 

Patrice Curry: Well, it’s time though. The whole point in the exhibit is for me to set the platform and begin selling them. I’m ready. I have one painting left. I sew also. I just went to Jesse Jackson’s birthday celebration last week, and the dress I wore there, I made it. Some of the things I filmed in I made. I like to walk in the room and look different. I don’t like following trends so to speak. We may body scrubs at home, and I do a lot of arts and crafts. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: I’m glad people see this side of you. It’s a great way to really step aside from the typical drama we see, and see the depth of you and your career. 

 

Patrice Curry: I agree. It’s going to happen. I’m working on it. I wish I could sing because i would be doing that too (laughing). For now, we’re doing our reality show. You’ll see how i train my daughters, and how I get on the boys about not doing all the things they could do to use their God-given talents to be greater. I definitely am trying to live by example when it comes to them. The point of moving forward with a lot of projects is I see my children are older now and they see me as an example. I’m trying to be a positive example for them and anyone who is looking. I’m looking forward to all of the doors that are opening, and I’m ready. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Where can the world check you out online? Aside from social media, is there a website?

 

Patrice Curry: No. I need to work on that. My cousin was yelling at me the other day about it. I had one, but nobody was checking for me. I felt like it was a waste of time. I’m going to work on it again. Right now, I’m just on social media. Instagram and Twitter are @thepatricecurry. I’m on Facebook as Patrice Curry. That’s it. I don’t know how to use snapchat, so I can….

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Social media has worked extremely well for you though. They serve the purpose for you. 

 

Patrice Curry: I appreciate the people who do check for me. I really do. It has grown since the show. I do a lot of talking about God and sharing what I learn at church for the week. Everyone doesn’t walk with that, But I feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Are there any final comments, or words of encouragement that you want to offer?

 

Patrice Curry: I just want to tell everyone that God Got It, and don’t give up. What ever is supposed to be is going to be, and just keep pushing.

[ON the SCREEN] Red Grant: Caught Red Handed

[ON the SCREEN] Red Grant: Caught Red Handed

Completing this interview with Comedian Red Grant has been one of my most exciting opportunities. Like many others, and much like myself, Red Grant took a situation that would defeat most, and used it to build what would ultimately become a promising career in comedy. For some, he might be a new face, but Grant has been here for nearly 20 years, grinding his way to the top. Most would agree that he has finally made it, and the reward is proving to be so sweet. Sweet enough that he’s currently juggling multiple tours, multiple television comedy specials, a sitcom in the works, and probably something else brewing as we speak. He’s worked with many of today’s biggest talents to precede him, including Martin Lawrence, Shaquille O’Neal, and of course Katt Williams, who extended an offer for Grant to appear beside him in the 2007 comedy ‘American Hustle’. Grant has proven that with hard work, dedication, and trust is God, all things are possible. He’s living his dream life with one important rule in mind: TurnUp! He has shown that he is definitely a comedy legend in the makings. 

 

So, with Red Grant currently out on the road from city to city once again with Katt Williams, he’s taking what little time he has to work a little press in between shows. Luckily, we were blessed with the opportunity of catching up with him not only about his foray into comedy and the different things he himself has been blessed to work on, but also his vision as a comedian, and exactly where he sees things heading for his life and career. 

 

Surely, many comics don’t make it for very long in this industry. Many lack that true star power. They don’t necessarily have the tact or knack for captivating the audience. Red Grant is clearly in another crowd. He’s got all that and more. If you haven’t already joined the movement, you’re sure to be on board very soon! Some things are simply inevitable. It’s now time for you to get Caught Red Handed!

[ON the SCREEN]: Marsha Stephanie Blake: A New Sheriff In Town

[ON the SCREEN]: Marsha Stephanie Blake: A New Sheriff In Town

It was such an amazing opportunity to be able to sit and chat with Marsha S. Blake about a number of things, one of the biggest obviously being Orange is the new Black. The show has done so well in it's first two seasons on Netflix, and now with the recent launching of the third season, list if new characters were introduced. 

Litchfield doesn't quite know just what they're in for with Berdie Rogers. Without question, she has a no nonsense type of demeanor that you expect to see in a prison system, yet, that same personality is causing her to blend a little more than what her fellow corrections officers expect, or want to see for that matter. She definitely gets the immediate gratification she's in search of, which is the respect of the many prisoners taking part in her drama classes, and she's seemingly making the difference that she set out for, but along the way, she's unknowingly planting the seed that land her back on the outside of the prison walls. It all gets pretty deep, as we know OITNB to be. 

 

In our two-part exclusive, Marsha gives us the full rundown on Berdie, and why although she's working hard to make a difference, she's still having such difficulty getting that across to her peers. Part one is all about Orange is the New Black! In part two, which will run in our upcoming issue of UGDigital, hitting digital newsstands July 25, 2015, we'll get to know about the other roles and projects that Marsha is involved in. She has been working at her craft for more than ten years now, and finally, the demand is beginning to catch up with her work. She has her hand in a variety of projects, including Happyish, and Our Nation. 

For now, take a look at part one!

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: It's such an honor to talk to you today. How are you?

 

Marsha S. Blake: I’m great

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: This season is really good. I’m actually sitting here watching the show right now. I find myself rewinding back, and playing the episodes over again to really get to the grit of what’s going on. I was always a fan, but there’s just something that your character brings to the show, and I’m just trying to figure it all out.

 

Marsha S. Blake: Ok, when you figure it out, let me know (laughing)

 

Marsha S. Blake: Right. What I see is a woman who’s really trying to make a difference in that system, but you have many who don’t see it, or don’t believe that you’re genuine. Why do they feel this way?

 

Marsh S. Blake: I liken it to working in the education system. Sometimes I go in and I’m a teaching artist in the high schools, or junior high schools. This is why Birdie relates to a lot of people. I would go into these schools, working for this company called the Shakespeare Society, and the teachers would contact me because they were having difficulties teaching Shakespeare to their students. To facilitate the learning through doing, as opposed to just reading. It’s a difficult thing to just read. So we bring in some actors, and all of a sudden they are interested. It works miracles. What I notice when I go to these schools is there’s a malaise, and I’m not bashing teachers at all because I have an incredible amount of respect for teachers, like more than any other profession. After a certain amount of time, the bureaucracy of what you’re dealing with beats you down, and you become a part of the system because no one survives. I notice the older teachers who had been there for a while, even though they had so much drive at the beginning of their careers, they lose it. It’s not their fault. You get it. The minute you walk in, the security starts yelling at the kids, then go down the hall and the principal is yelling, and everything trickles down. The teachers literally are the next in line. The bottom of the totem pole are the kids. Then it’s the teachers, then the administration, and then superintendents. Everybody is being yelled at for whatever reason, and the teachers; on top of being yelled at, or being told no to doing shakespeare, or bringing actors in, or the kids cursing…. we went through that, and I’m like there’s lots of cursing in shakespeare, and I’m not telling these kids they can’t curse. If it facilitates the learning, I don’t care if they say fuck. I don’t care if they chew gum. I understand the rules as to why they don’t want gum everywhere, but I’m in there once a week. If they’re listening to me and chewing gum, I just care that they’re listening to me. I can see how I would get frustrated week after week. Imagine year after year of dealing with that and being admonished for trying to get the learning in however it happens. You would eventually not be able to handle it. I think what happens with Birdie, who know’s what’s going to happen because she did get fired (laughing). But Healy knows the system. That’s why he survived. He’s up in there, knows the system, and he’s an older guy. He’s like if you want to come in here with your new ideas that’s great, but this is what works. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: I thought it was funny how you were setting up the drama class, and he immediately came in with counts to you having a good turnout. 

 

Marsha S. Blake: Like already, before I had a chance to start, he didn’t think it would work. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: And Birdie developed friendships almost immediately with the inmates.

 

Marsha S. Blake: I think that’s what Healy doesn’t like either. I see that in the schools too. You come in, you’re in your cute clothes, and the teachers are like great, but you know who’s left with them when you’re gone? I am. You can be as chill with them and be their best friend all you want, but at the end of the day I’m left with them. Healy gets a bad rap because he’s not a sympathetic character. I understand why he would be resentful. Immediately, I’m friends with the girls, but I’m a black woman. Of course they’re going to relate to me immediately. It’s not his fault. He tries, and I think he does care about the women, but like I said, you get bogged down by the bureaucracy, and eventually you just feel like you’re trying to survive. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: You feel like it’s not going anywhere. 

 

Marsha S. Blake: Exactly, and you’ve seen it not go anywhere for years. Birdie is optimistic, but she could be Healy in fifteen years. It would be awesome if you could do that for fifteen years and still have that enthusiasm, but the system makes it impossible. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Were you alway a fan to the show before becoming involved?

 

Marsha S. Blake: I was, but I had not watched it, which sounds ridiculous (laughing). I was though, because I knew a lot of the women. Danielle (Taystee), literally, I called her. I knew her because I did a play with friends of her, and she had come to see the play a bunch of times. We used to call her our number one fan because she came to see our play every week. Then we adopted her and told her now she was in the “Hurt Village” camp, because she showed up every week. I called her to see if she would watch this audition I had, and that’s who she was to me before she was Taystee. So, I was a fan because I love her and am so proud of her. I know Maria Dizzia, who plays Piper’s best friend. She’s one of my best friends through graduate school. I knew so many of the women already. Uzo and I had friends in common. I would hear about the show, but I had two kids, so to sit down and watch a show is a big deal to me. It takes a lot of time that I don’t have. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Clearly, there’s a huge benefit to this show being on Netflix because it’s limitless in the idea that you can do more than network television allows, but on the flip side, you get the whole season at one time, and when you have a lot going on, it’s easy to put it off and life can prevent you from coming back. I get wrapped up in that because I have so many things going on. I had to go backwards and watch the previous episodes again to catch up. 

 

Marsha S. Blake. I think what’s great about it on Netflix is also what’s not great about it, in an interesting way, especially if you have a busy life. it’s all there and you can literally watch for two days and be all done. But also still, in the middle of filming, I had to go back and watch because I felt like I needed the back story. I told myself I would watch one episode per night. That’s what I could dedicate and still function with my life, go shoot, have auditions, and take care of my kids. I would inevitably watch three episodes and it’s 3 o’clock in the morning. It’s so well written, and it makes you want to keep watching. That’s what took me so long. That actually happened with Jenji’s other show Weeds. I remember one summer just watching Weeds, and wondering where did my summer go. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: It’ll definitely eat up a lot of time. 

 

Marsha S. Blake: It’s great. It’s wonderful and so well written. There were other things you could be doing, but you have to commit to it. And once you commit, it’s so wonderful. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: it’s weird because I had gotten to episode 7, and I almost felt like i had missed something, so I started over about three times and watched again. I’m back to the third episode again. I really love your character though. What else is there to expect with your character?

 

Marsha S. Blake: I have no info in terms of casting, like literally, they keep it as closed-lipped as they can because they’re scared people will leak it. What I can say, with getting frustrated and the bureaucracy working against the things you’re trying to do, we see some of that happening. Resentment from Healy, and people being confused because it is a prison, and here I am with my drama class, and there’s a few comments like, what does she think she’s doing…a fucking drama class? So being misunderstood inn a way because I see an end goal, and I think I’m doing some good but not necessarily everyone agrees with it. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: It depicts real life though, because with a lot that you do, people may not feel like you’re being genuine. 

 

Marsha S. Blake: That’s in any office. You come in with a certain level of enthusiasm, and you leave with a better understanding of how the system works. You go to your new job with a different level of enthusiasm. Each one takes a little bit out of you. It’s the formidable one who can survive when the system is constantly beating you down. It’s a very strong person that can maintain a certain level of engagement. 

[ON the SCREEN][REALITY] TRACI BRAXTON: DESTINY FULFILLED

[ON the SCREEN][REALITY] TRACI BRAXTON: DESTINY FULFILLED

We're overly-excited about the opportunity to spotlight Traci Braxton in this new issue of Urban Grand Digital with the new feature, Destiny Fullfilled. We're on the heels of the return of The Braxton's Family Values, and as huge as that is in itself, her story is so much bigger than that! It's a story of fulfillment indeed. We've watch for 4 years as her life has been put on public broadcast. We've seen the ups, the downs, and the in-between, as she has worked to define herself. She's worked to find her happiness, and in this moment, she's finally arriving at that place. One of her dreams has been to lead a successful recordings career, and with God's grace, she's finally achieved it. Her album, Crash & Burn, is her dream come true. She's also been able to use The Braxton's Family Values to build and strengthen her bin with her sisters, something that has been vital to her survival through the struggles. 

 

In our exclusive feature, she opens up about the show, her album, and her triumphs. She talks about her newfound opportunities as Ambassador of the United Negro College Fund, as well as her chance to spread the word about Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, a disease that could have devastated get family, but has ultimately taught her so much and helped her family to grow and strengthen each other. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Thank you so much for your time today. I've always wanted to talk to you and get your thoughts on different things.

 

Traci Braxton: Thank you so much for having me. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: There’s so much going on right now, with your album being out, and the return of The Braxton’s Family Values this week. It’s such a huge thing and it has o be overwhelming. How are you feeling in the midst of everything?

 

Traci Braxton: I am on cloud nine! The Braxton’s Family Values is still running, and everyone still wants to know what’s going on with our lives and what they can learn. Then there’s my album and me doing different things. i was named the Ambassador of United Negro College Fund. I’m very excited for that. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: I think that’s amazing. You don’t hear much about stuff like that and the media doesn’t put a lot of focus on it, but obviously this is something people need to know. Education is obviously so important. 

 

Traci Braxton: Yes. I’m so excited about that, and I’ve always worked with kids. I’m a senior counselor, and I have been for 15 years, I also worked at Oak Hill, which is a baby jail. I love working with kids. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: There’s smooch behind education, and being able to go to school. I did a story with Angela Robinson, who has also done some things with UNCF. It’s really amazing, but what was it that made you want to do this?

 

Traci Braxton: Making sure education is the very beginning of knowledge and wisdom. My son, I’ve been waiting him to go to college. He’s a young entrepreneur and he has vision, but I teach him that he still has to go to school. I hope it gets through to him that he still needs educational background to know what he’s talking about, so that he can be politically correct when he speaks. Then he can tell people why he opened his business, and why he is passionate about his business. The same thing goes with kids too. Anything they want to do in life, they need to go to school. Try it and see if it’s for you. Get some kind of knowledge. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: That’s been my thing. At least try it. There’s so many opportunities come because of being in school. Love the fact that you push this idea, and who cares what everyone else is doing in entertainment, school is still important. 

 

Traci Braxton: I think everybody needs to go away to college. At least go for that one semester. You will understand, either you’re going to learn, or you’re a party person. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: I like how you say go away. Almost like you’re saying get out of my house (laughing)

 

Traci Braxton: (laughing) Give the pad a break for a semester. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Truthfully though, this topic just adds to your ability to relate to so many people. Of all of the sisters, I feel like you have been one of the more relatable figures. It’s not to shed any negativity on anyone, but I believe it’s because from the beginning, you’ve been very transparent. We know your struggles, and wanting to pursue entertainment but not being able to because of children and family. There’s so many people;e we know of, who would pick the fame route, and who have done so. To each their own, but I think it’s cool that we’ve seen that transparency in your struggles, and you have proven that you are just like us, Traci. You’re just like us. 

 

Traci Braxton: (laughing) I try to be. Thank you. I try to be, Lord Jesus. These people are trying it too. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Do you get that a lot when you talk to people, and meet fans? Do they tell you that you’re really transparent, and relatable?

 

Traci Braxton: I get some that, and I get some people who say just anything out of their mouths. I bite ‘em right back (laughing). It’s real strange and odd. I know don’t know. I’ve been working for such a long time. No I didn’t have the fame., Yes, I was with the sisters on “The Good Life”, the very beginning before Toni branched out. I was with the sisters again, matter of fact, I was on “The Braxton’s” with “Who's the Boss”. I did co-write two songs on that album. That lets you know I was the4re. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: …and people need to know that. 

 

Traci Braxton: Yes, and when I wasn’t able to sign with the sisters, OK, I stayed with my profession, working with kids. I’m excited that people can relate to me. That’s all I’ve been doing is working my entire life, after I chose my family. So, it was something of the norm. I was from that same foundation, having both parents in the house, both of my parents being ministers, and working with the public. I fell back to what I knew. It wasn’t always singing and entertaining. That was being a productive citizen, having a family, and being working class. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: The one thing  lot of people like about your family on television is obviously you’re doing reality, so there will be drama in some sense, but they compare you to their families. I can even do so. I’m one of two kids, so I don’t have many siblings, but the overall premise in your family was support, and being their for each other. Sticking together. There’s so much support in the background. 

 

Traci Braxton: All families go through a lot of the same things. I’m glad we can touch people who deal with the same problems. OK, maybe I need to do it this way, or maybe I need to talk to my sister. Maybe I need to mend this relationship with my sisters or my siblings, or my parents. You only get one family and you don’t choose them. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: But how difficult is it to truly mend fences, you know, when things hit that level. Obviously, we’re all watching the show, and we see the things that happen and how it heats up. Surely we’ve seen this season’s trailer, and I’m like “oh my god”. 

 

Traci Braxton: (laughing)

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: (laughing) How do you come back from that? Is that difficult?

 

Traci Braxton: It can be very difficult because we all are head strong women. We got it from our momma (laughing), and sometimes, our opinions can get join the way of the healing and us being respectable to one another. During taping and things like that, we come to our senses, or we have someone to put us in our places. For us to get back together and mend the relationship after we argue, it makes our bond even closer. I’m glad we get back together, and say I apologize, I can’t believe I did that to you. Let’s start off new. Everybody knows our communication skills suck. We probably be mad for 5 episodes. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: But that goes back to the reliability. I feel like I made that word up (laughing). But it goes back to people being able to relate to you and you being transparent enough for them to see themselves in you. Communication is a big issue with everyone. Nobody communicates well, but you’re there for each other no matter what. You show that you can rise above it all. Even with your mom, the thing that connected your mom and my mom was when she told Tamar she was going to slap the piss out of her (laughing). 

 

Traci Braxton: Yes honey, she used to say that to us all the time. I was just like, I don’t want to wear no depends and smell pissy all day (laughing). Who wants to do that (laughing)

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: I was floored. That can be my mother all day long. 

 

Traci Braxton:  So you have an Evelyn, too. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Yea, but moving away from the show, you’ve been able to parlay this into a music career. You were able to show that yes, you can do this too, and you’re able to put an album out there; a GOOD album, and so well with it. I listen to “Stay Sippin” with you and Raheem DeVaughn, and I’m just like this girl can hang with the best and the rest! What is that like for you with your OWN album out there now? Your OWN baby!

 

Traci Braxton: Ahh, it feels wonderful. I’m still on cloud nine. They still have me in the studio and I’m working on the second album. So, just to show my vocals. I don’t have to be all lavish or wear tennis shows. Sometimes i don’t have to wear tennis shoes all the time (I’m talking about doing a lot of runs on the track). Having a good R&B album and sticking to what you know. I’m not a spring chicken anymore. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Well you look like one….

 

Traci Braxton: Thank you, but this woman is grown honey, and been drinking milk (laughing). It’s wonderful. I can finally say I don’t have a should have, could have, would have. I can check that off my bucket list. I’ve fulfilled my dream. I have Tank to thank, and my brother. The next single will be his song, “Perfect Timing”. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: That’s so awesome, because he’s truly amazing. He’s done so much work, even in the past for people like Aaliyah. People don’t get the feel of his depth and all that he does. It has to sit high in your heart to work with him. 

 

Traci Braxton: Right, and he worked with Toni also. I’m like wow! People I did not think I would work with so early in my music career, I’m like wow! He has that much faith in me and the fact that I can deliver. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Will there be a video treatment?

 

Traci Braxton: I hope so. The record label is so tricky. They’ll say they’re going to dose things and then don’t do it. I didn’t even realize that would be the next single. I was trying to do “Holding On”. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: It’s almost like that middle child syndrome where there’s not a large amount of push put into it. You end up doing a lot yourself. I always say it’s better to be independent because although it’s a to of work, the reward comes stronger. It’s bothersome that it’s been out there, but a lot of people still don’t know. 

 

Traci Braxton: No, they don’t…

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: I think it’s unacceptable in a sense because of the amount of celebrity you have. There’s no reason for people to not know. 

 

Traci Braxton: Yes, the industry is so crazy. I have to say this: the younger generation doesn’t know enough about R&B music. It’s dead to them. When they get older, they not going to always pop their booty and do the nay-nay everyday. I do the nay-nay sometimes (laughing) but I’m just saying. They don’t know about Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Melba Moore, Chanté Moore, and Tina Turner. They don’t know the foundation. They only know jump off music. That doesn’t last though. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: But you’re teaching people that. You’re showing what it is to have a good quality album. 

 

Traci Braxton: Yes! think about it. Normally, someone has a banging CD and people sleep on it. Then after 5 years, boom! It happens that way sometimes. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Well I love Crash & Burn, I hope more people really learn about this because the songster great. We mentioned "Stay Sippin", and “Perfect Timing”, “Last Call” was awesome. The song “Reasons”, it really reminds me of the Tony Rich Project

 

Traci Braxton: Yes!

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: It reminds me of “Nobody Knows it But Me”. It’s colt have those references back to music that was out there and what we were able to enjoy, and now we relive it. 

 

Traci Braxton: I have to say this though! My brother wrote therefor Toni 15 years ago, and it never made it on her album. I asked him if I could have it, and he said I had to ask Toni. I talked to her, and you know, she helped me out through the whole process, changing certain things. I’m blessed thatch let me have that song. That was written 15 years ago. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: That shows the timeless quality of it. It’s a good song. 

 

Traci Braxton: It is! Timeless! I’m proud of my brother. It was for my mom and dad when they went through their divorce. Toni had it, but it never made it on the album. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: That makes it better because of how it resonates in the family. What are you most proud of with this album?

 

Traci Braxton: My emotion. How i was feeling while making this album. Passion is my favorite song. People think I’m talking about a love, or a man. I’m not. I’m talking about being alone in this passion, trying to get me voice heard, I’ve been waiting song and music to come to me for so long. I did not understand why it wasn’t coming to me. Why don’t you want me. Why am I not getting my gift? Singing this song filled my heart p. then boom, it comes to me. That is my favorite song. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: So before we finish up about the show, I want to bring to light what you do for the cause of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Your son was diagnosed with it. Why was it important to champion this cause?

 

Traci Braxton: The reason I want to push this is that a lot of kids suffer from it. It is in the family of lupus. It comes back misdiagnosed all the time. They have high fevers, vomiting, and their joints bother them. Doctors call it growing pains, but it isn’t. They actually have screenings to look beyond the pains in their joints, and blood levels. It comes in the form of pain in their joints. They say give em Tylenol, or rest. It’s not just that. Sometimes kids have deformities, or bulging in their joints. It’s a painful disease. People need to be aware of it. You have to check up on that. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: It puts me in mind of the people who suffer from Sickle Cell Crises. 

 

Traci Braxton: Yes! Seeing my son, when he was younger, having to sit in cool water and putting rubbing alcohol on. Making sure he takes his medicine. Yesterday, I had to make sure he was taking his medicine because he doesn’t want to take it. Him being alienated in school, and not being able to sit in class. Teachers would complain about him getting up, but he has JRA. He can’t sit for extended periods or he stiffens up. The kid has to get up. Then the medicine dries them out, and they have to keep going to get water. They’ll put them in special needs classes, but they don’t need that. They can’t help it. It’s a to going on with these kids, and people, even teachers, have to study it. Sometimes you can mess up a kids education because you don’t understand. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: It’s a testament, though, to your hard work. Your son is older now, and has been able to maneuver through this life successfully, and is living a productive life. Will you speak more about this?

 

Traci Braxton: I do have some things scheduled. I love giving back. Just like “Women Below the Belt” with cancer, I can attest to that. I had cancer cells on my cervix. They had to remove that, I was pregnant during that time so they had to remove the fetus. People have to open their eyes and stop thinking it can’t happen to them or their family. No one is exempt to these things. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Definitely. It’s good to have someone like you to speak on this, and show you can live a productive life. 

 

Traci Braxton: I try James. I try (laughing)

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: So closing up, what can everyone expect this season on The Braxton’s Family Values?

 

Traci Braxton: In so many words, I don’t know what’s happening Thursday. I’ll be watching it with you guys. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: It’d be nice if you guys could do something like what Mary Mary has done and watch it with us at the same time. 

 

Traci Braxton: OK, that’s a thought. You hear that networks? That would be a good thing. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: What what’s to be expected?

 

Traci Braxton: A lot of support. We argue with each other, but the support and love is there. I can’t tell you everything going on. It’s juicy. We’re trying to tell everybody. Stuff is about to be unveiled. 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: I knew you wouldn’t give me too much, but I had to try. 

 

Traci Braxton: You gonna try your hand! James is going to try his hand (laughing). 

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: Thank you again, so much. You mentioned bucket list before. You have been one of those people on my bucket list to talk to. 

 

Traci Braxton: Really?

 

Urban Grandstand Digital: I love what you do, and I tend to look a little deeper. I’ve been looking these last three seasons, and I wonder mores “wow, how is she dealing with that”. I also like to be able to spotlight the causes that you’re working on. I could care less about the drama and things that go on because all families fight and argue. That’s reality. I like to be able to push the bigger cause.

 

Traci Braxton: Well thank you for having me and considering me. 

[On the Screen] Rita Dominic

[On the Screen] Rita Dominic

We’re excited to connect with Rita Dominic, who is the star of the period piece film “76”, which centers around the 1976 military coup and assassination of General Mortal Mohammed. Produced by Adonijah Owiriwa and Izu Ojukwu, and also directed by Izu Ojukwu, it’s turning out to be the biggest film of Rita’s legendary career. Through today’s connection, we talk with Rita about the film and what it means for Nigerian culture, and we all talk about the other projects she has in the works. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: This is such an amazing opportunity, and I appreciate you so much for it. I would love for you to begin by discussing how you first got into acting..

 

Rita Dominic: Yes, I started when I was very young. I was very much involved in school plays and television programs for children. I grew up acting, and then when I went to further my education, I studied Theater Arts. It didn’t come as a surprise to anyone who knew me. After school, I found myself in the industry. It’s been a journey so far, 18 years.

 

U.G. Digital Mag: Were you the first in your family to pursue entertainment?

 

Rita Dominic: Yes. I’m the only entertainer in the family, but thinking back, I believe I got my talent from my mom. She was a very funny woman. She would crack a lot of jokes, and laugh. She was a very dramatic woman (laughing). 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: I think it’s so cool. Obviously, you’ve done a great deal. What is it like to know that you’re one of the biggest names from your area?

 

Rita Dominic: Honestly, it feels really good. It feels like the world is connecting with the quality of work we’re doing. What we do in our industry is tell stories. I think that what gives us edge is the fact that we tell simple stories that anyone can relate to. It feels good that the audience connects to it. Making that connection helps to get the industry to where it needs to be. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: I know that overall connectivity, and the ability to show Africa to the world was so important to you. Why is that?

 

Rita Dominic: The parts shown to the world are not necessarily the good parts. We have this tool, that being television, that can be used to show the Africa that no one sees. We want them to see how beautiful it is, and the beautiful cultures and landscapes we have. We have so many talented people in our country. In the world, there’s good and bad everywhere. It looks like the bad outweighs the good, but we can change that perception. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: What type of things are being done to ensure the better parts are seen?

 

Rita Dominic: We’re doing that through storytelling, and filmmaking. That’s were my strengths are, and that’s how I can pass on the message. I’m using television to show this. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: What has been your goal in regard to the roles you take on and overall perception?

 

Rita Dominic: I want to do more colorful roles. I like for the audience to see my vulnerability. As an actor, I want the audience to connect with me in that way. In being vulnerable, you’re bringing everything you have, and you connect better overall. I like to play very strong roles that are “out of the box”. 

U.G. Digital Mag: “76” has gotten a lot of buzz. Talk about your character in the film?

 

Rita Dominic: It’s a story set against the backdrop of our history in Nigeria. It involves a young soldier who finds himself in the middle of it all. His pregnant fiánce finds herself trying to do all she can to extricate him from the lies. This is happening 6 years after the civil war. It’s like it’s taboo for them to be together. It’s basically a love story around that period. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: Was it hard to connect with this role?

 

Rita Dominic: It was very hard because the army wives are the unsung heroes. They go through a lot when their husbands are deployed. I had to see life through the eyes of the army wives. We filmed for 6 months, during which time I talked with them and shared the many emotions they were dealing with. It was very difficult and challenging emotionally, having to be in that space for 6 months. I’m glad I had the chance to see life this way, and be a voice for their stories to be told. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: Would you do another role such as this?

 

Rita Dominic: Why not? If I love the story and concept, definitely. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: I believe people are getting so much in regard to Nigerian culture, and the value system. Is that something that really connected you to the film?

 

Rita Dominic: Well, yes. This film shows our values as Africans, and what the values are for our families. We take our culture seriously. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: What was preparation like?

 

Rita Dominic: It was very challenging. We spent about 2 months rehearsing, and immersing into the roles. I had to gain weight for the role because she was pregnant. I wanted it to be believable, so I volunteered to gain weight (laughing). I did a lot of research about those days, and the way they spoke during that time. I had to learn to speak during that time, and stay that way during the entire time. It was a difficult process, but very much worth it. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: What was the most enjoyable part of it all?

 

Rita Dominic: The story, first of all. I’ve never done a period piece before. If anyone could do justice to the story, it was our director. I believe in his work, and it was a very compelling story. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: In terms of the overall goal and what you wanted to get out with the story, do you feel like you achieved that?

 

Rita Dominic: I think we did well, but I think the audience has to determine that. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: What other projects are you working on at the current time?

 

Rita Dominic: I’m a producer as well, so we’re currently working on a television series, titled The Bank. We’re hoping to start filming soon. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: How difficult is it to switch roles between acting and producing?

 

Rita Dominic: It’s very difficult. I won’t even lie (laughing). It’s very tasking. The first time I produced, I co-produced with someone else. I also played a very complex role. I didn’t want to touch it because I was producing for the first time. I didn’t want to play such a difficult role, and produce for the first time. My manager at the time talked me into it, and I’m glad she did. That film did very well. It has become a classic in Nigeria. I won a lot of awards and earned a lot of accolades for my work. It’s difficult to switch roles, but I would do it again, especially when it is widely accepted. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: Now that you’ve gotten good on both sides, which would you choose if you had to make a choice?

 

Rita Dominic: Acting, definitely. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: I love that you’re working to show Africa for the beauty that it has. 

 

Rita Dominic: Television is such a strong tool, and I think people have to begin to understand that if we want to change the minds of the public. 

 

U.G. Digital Mag: For everyone wanting to stay updated with you and the film, where can they go to online?

 

Rita Dominic: They can follow me on Twitter at @ritaudominic, and on Instagram at @ritadominic, and Facebook. They can follow the film on Instagram at @76themovieng … there’s a website as well, which is www.76movie.com, and my website of course. 

 

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