Tag Archives: Lorraine Toussaint

Seven Sistas of Television, 2016

To quote the great show Hamilton Musical: “Look around, look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now.” On the latest Cinema in Noir, we chatted about how it’s almost an embarrassment of riches with the amount of quality television that is being produced.  And many of these amazing series feature women of color in prominent roles.  2016 marks my 5th year doing my year-end seven sistas post and this year it was particularly hard narrowing this list to seven. But here they are, my seven sistas of television, 2016.

1. Erica Ash as “M-Chuck” on Survivor’s Remorse and “Bridgette” on The Real Husbands of HollywoodErica Ash is one of the most underrated women working in television. She pulls double duty bringing the drama on Survivor’s Remorse and hilariously goes toe to toe with Kevin Hart on the Real Husbands of Hollywood. Erica was included in my Seven Sistas of 2015 last year as an honorable mention. In 2016 she was a shining star.

2. Kylie Bunbury as “Ginny Baker” on PitchPitch is a show about being the first.  But this isn’t my first time raving about it’s star, Kylie Bunbury. Back in 2013, I fell in love with Kylie in the now defunct series Twisted.  Today she portrays the first woman signed to a major league baseball team. And Kylie does so with the same strength and vulnerability that first caught my attention.

3. Michaela Coel as “Tracey” on Chewing GumI heard about the series Chewing Gum for the first time a couple of months ago. At the time, I added it to the never-ending-Netflix-queue and moved on. When I finally watched Chewing Gum this week I literally laughed the entire time.  Michaela Coel is the quirky black girl icon we have been clamoring for.

4. Issa Rae as “Issa” on InsecureIssa Rae was a Hollywood MVP before Hollywood knew her name.  I first fell in love with her work back in 2011 when she released her web series Awkward Black Girl. Fast-forward to 2016 and Issa is bringing the same unique perspective and fresh voice that the world deserves to the masses via Insecure.

5. Jurnee Smollett as “Rosalee” on UndergroundJurnee Smollett has been delivering stand out performances for over almost 20 years.  In Underground she portrays Rosalee, a house slave turned runaway with the same dignity, strength, and badassery that we have come to expect from her performances.

6. Lorraine Toussaint as “Donna Rosewood” on Rosewood

Yall know how much I love me some Lorraine Toussaint. It is well documented. This season, I was ecstatic that her character on Rosewood got a storyline worthy of her amazing talent. And in true Lorraine form, she delivered an amazing performance.

7. Rutina Wesley as “Nova Bordelon” on Queen SugarIt is a revelation to watch Rutina Wesley on screen.   As Novalee, she embodies the spirit of a loving sister, a loyal friend, and fierce protector.  Rutina’s portrayal of the perfectly imperfect Nova is one of the best of 2016.

HONORABLE MENTION – The Women of Luke Cage (Rosario Dawson, Simone Missick and Alfre Woodard)Seven Sistas of Television, 2016

I could go on and on, but yall already know!

Who would you put on you Seven Sistas of Television, 2016 list?

 

Seven Sistas of Television, 2014

2014 has been an AMAZING year for television.  It seems television is blazing a trail for women of color in leading roles. Trying to narrow down  this list down to seven was damn near impossible. But these seven women (plus a few bonuses :-)) have given us some complex, layered and memorable performances. So  I give you my seven favorite sistas of television for 2014.  Enjoy!

Viola Davis as “Annalise Keating ” on How To Get Away With Murder

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Viola Davis gave us one of the most “OMG WTF just happened” moments of 2014.  Actually, she gave us two or three courtesy of her work on the Shonda Rhimes show How To Get Away With Murder.

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In an unprecedented move, Viola shed her make-up and wig in a pivotal scene that had the world talking.  As usual, Viola brings strength, grace, and an unparalleled sense of humanity to her character Annalise.

 

Nia Long as “Billie Page” on  The Divide

zap-the-divide-season-1-photos-20140715-001The Divide was hands down one of the best shows of the year. Unfortunatly, it was cancelled prematurely.  But we will always have one season of the awesome Nia Long as Billie Page. I love that Nia always brought the drama while playing this strong, intelligent, yet conflicted character balancing work, family, and a little corruption. The show may be gone, but Billie will love on in our hearts forever.

 

Kelly McCreary “Dr. Maggie Pearce” on Grey’s Anatomy

MaggieI have been a fan of Kelly McCreary since I watched her on the short-lived Emily Owens, MD. So I was super excited when she appeared on Scandal and doubly excited when I learned she was joining the cast of Grey’s Anatomy.  As the recently discovered sister, Kelly is bringing new life (and drama) to the long running series.

 

Naturi Naughton as “Tasha St. Patrick” on Power

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Power has to be one of the most underrated shows on television right now.  And Naturi Naughton is bringing it as the wife with her own agenda and goals. I am really impressed with Naturi’s career path.  Her transition from 3LW to serious actress has been great to watch.

 

Gina Rodriguez as “Jane” on Jane the Virgin

1.02lWhen I saw Gina Rodriguez in the indie film, Filly Brown, I knew that sooner or later, the world would know her name.  And I was right.  Although the scenarios on the show can be over-the-top and outrageous (as a good soap should be), never have I doubted Jane’s sincerity or the respect Gina has for the character.

 

Tracee Ellis Ross as “Bow” on black-ish

10218196 We’ve know for a while that Tracee Ellis-Ross excels in comedic roles. So I was overjoyed by her return to television comedy.  This time around we  get to see an older, wiser Tracee as Bow, the matriarch of the Johnson Family on black-ish.  Tracee ‘s hilarious interactions with the kids has her in the race for best TV mom of 2014.

 

Lorraine Toussaint as “Vee” on Orange is the New Black

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Full disclosure: I am obsessed with Lorraine Toussaint. So,  I was more than excited when I found out she was going to be on one of my favorite shows.  And boy did she deliver.  As a fan, I got a see a completely different side of the actress. Lorraine’s portrayal of Vee had me shook. I loved every minute of it.

HONORABLE MENTION: Abby, Jenny, and Mama Mills on Sleepy Hollow

Mills-sisters-forehead-touch-Sleepy-Hollow-2x09-e1416336896862On Sleepy Hollow, the Mills sisters (played by Nicole Beharie and Lyndie Greenwood) personify badassery every single week.  But one of my favorite moments of the season came when we got to meet their mother, played by Aunjanue Ellis.

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I loved the backstory and the chemistry between the three characters.

Who else gave a memorable performance this year?  Who is your favorite sista of television for 2014?

Seven Sistas of 2012: Film

2012 has been a pretty good year for film.  And the sistas of cinema have given us some amazing and memorable performances. Below are my favorite Seven Sistas of 2012.  Enjoy!

 

1.  Emayatzy Corninealdi as “Ruby” in Middle of Nowhere:

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Emayatzy Corinealdi can tell a story with her eyes.  As Ruby, a woman who puts her dreams on hold to support her husband who is incarcerated, she brings hope to a character in a seemingly impossible situation. Emayatzy’s performance is moving, understated, but extremely powerful.

 

2.  Carmen Ejogo as “Sister” in Sparkle:

Sister (Carmen Ejogo) in TriStar Pictures' SPARKLE.

The movie was called Sparkle, but Carmen Ejogo shined the brightest in this remake of the 1976 classic film.  As Tammy aka “Sister” Carmen’s performance was astounding as she portrayed Sister  as both sultry and seductive yet vulnerable and mature and completely captivating.

 

3.  Rashida Jones as “Celeste” in Celeste and Jesse Forever:

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I was so excited when I found out that Rashida Jones would be tackling her first starring role in the film Celeste and Jesse Forever. I was doubly excited when I found out that she also co-wrote the film because I think she is a very smart and very funny woman.  What I appreciate most about Rashida’s performance is that she manages to make you root for Celeste despite her many flaws.

 

4.  Sharon Leal as “Kari” in Woman Thou Art Loosed on the Seventh Day:

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Sharon Leal gives a star performance as a seemingly happily married woman whose family is torn apart when her young daughter is kidnapped. Her character is deeply wounded , dealing with the possibility that her fractured past has come back to haunt her in the worst possible way.  Sharon brings her “A” game to the role and despite the character’s questionable actions, you root for her to overcome her demons.

 

5.  Amandla Stenberg as “Rue” in The Hunger Games:

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Who didn’t love the uber adorable Amandla Stenberg as the youngest tribute in the wildly popular adaptation of Suzanne Collin’s book The Hunger Games?  As Rue, Amandla stole the hearts of fellow tribute Katniss and film goers alike. In addition to giving a great performance on-screen, Amandla has proven to be a class act wise beyond her thirteen years.

 

6.  Lorraine Toussaint as “Ruth” in Middle of Nowhere:

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I adore Lorraine Toussaint! Her command performance as Ruth in Middle of Nowhere is pitch perfect. Ruth is a mother who wants the best for her daughters, but laments the choices they have made in life.  Lorraine’s portrayal is brutally honest.  She deserves every accolade she has received for her performance.

 

7. Quvenzhane Wallis as “Hushpuppy” in  Beasts of the Southern Wild:

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“A wonder,” “a dynamite,” and “a revelation” are just a few of the words I’ve heard used to describe Quvenzhane Wallis.  And this super talented little girl and  her performance in the Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, Beasts of the Southern Wild is all of those and so much more.  Quvenzhane is absolutely enchanting in the heartfelt performance that proves she is talented beyond her years.

 

Honorable Mention:

Whitney Houston as “Emma” in Sparkle:

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Whitney Houston’s role as Emma in Sparklemarked the perfect final act to a career that ended too soon.  I think it is Whitney’s best film performance.  She will be forever missed. Rest in Peace, Whitney.

 

What else gave a memorable performance this year?  Who is your favorite sista of cinema for 2012?

 

 

 

Cinema in Noir – The State of Black Biopics

This week it was announced that rocker Lenny Kravitz has been cast as the legendary Marvin Gaye in an upcoming biopic. In the latest edition of Cinema in Noir, my co-hosts and I discussed the casting about and the current state of the black biopic film in Hollywood.

The controversial casting choice is just the latest in a long line of seemingly miscast biopics. Also, over the course of the last few years, dozens of biopics have been optioned, but very few have made it through to distribution.  Today we discussed the disconnect between Hollywood and the black biopic and explore the issues behind the disconnect.

We also discussed the Independent Spirit Awards nominations that were announced this week.  Check out which of our favorites were nominated for awards (Full list of nominees here).

We also reveiewed some of the latest film releases including Rust and Bone, Anna Karenina, Rise of the Guardians, and Silver Linings Playbook. As always we discussed the latest film news including Angela Bassett’s laterst project and the recent additions to Tyler Perry’s upcoming film, The Single Moms Club.

 

Listen Here:

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Flashback Friday – Lorraine Toussaint on Any Day Now

I am not ashamed to admit that I am obsessed with Lorraine Toussaint. I think that she is undeniably one of the most underrated actresses working today.

This week I got the opportunity to see her shine on the big screen in Ava Duvernay’s latest film, Middle of Nowhere.  I was first introduced to Lorraine’s work when I saw her on Law & Order as Shambala Green. But I fell in love with Lorraine during her work on the Lifetime series Any Day Now.  I never missed an episode of the series that co-starred Annie Potts.

Lorraine Toussaint and Annie Potts

On the show, Lorraine portrayed Rene Jackson, an attorney in Alabama.  I loved that the show dealt with issues of race in a frank, honest, and unsensationalized manner. Unfortunately, the show if not available on DVD or Netflix.  But I did find one episode uploaded on Youtube.

So, for today’s Flash Friday, I am highlighting a few clips from the Any Day Now episode entitled “It’s Who You Sleep With.” In the episode, Lorraine’s character Rene represents a lesbian couple who want to get married on public property.  She must  deal with the  views and reactions of family and friends.

Check her out:

Four Reasons You NEED To See Middle of Nowhere

Yesterday,  I went to go see Middle of Nowhere for the second time in four days.  The first time I saw it, I enjoyed it.  But I wanted to watch it again, to pin point why I found it so appealing.  I have literally been waiting to see this film since writer and director Ava DuVernay announced that the project was happening.  I absolutely loved her first feature film, I Will Follow and became an instant fan.  So, I wanted to see Middle of Nowhere again to make sure that I wasn’t caught up in my own excitement. And I have to say that I enjoyed it more the second time than the first. Here are my top four reasons that you need to see Middle of Nowhere.

1. A Star is Born

Emayatzy Corinealdi completely shines as Ruby, a woman who puts her dreams on hold to support her husband who is incarcerated. Her performance is moving, understated, but extremely powerful.  Emayatzy has the most expressive and soulful eyes. In one scene in particular, her character is forced to ask her mother for help.  In that moment, the independent and determined Ruby morphs into a 12 year old child, and it’s all in the eyes.  It’s heartbreaking to watch. I guarantee that Emayatzy Corinealdi is a name that you will be hearing or years to come.

2. The Family Drama

The supporting cast in Middle of Nowhere is amazing. The always awesome Lorraine Toussaint plays the role of Ruth.  Her character is a single mother who does not want her now grown daughters repeating her mistakes.  I am a long-time fan of Lorraine, but Middle of Nowhere marks my first time seeing her on the big screen. Along with Edwina Findley, who plays sister Rosie,  the two women round out Ruby’s immediate family. What I love most about these three characters is the immediate connection I felt to them as a family. First of all, they look like they could be related in real life, which adds to their credibility.  But more importantly, the chemistry between these three women is palpable.  The scenes between Emayatzy and Edwina are filled with playful and supportive energy, like real sisters. And in every scene that features Lorraine, there is an immediate tension and a subtext of disappointment that simmers just below the surface, threatening to implode.  And at the the appointed time, a significant scene in the final act of the movie, when these feeling come to the surface, the result is nothing short of cinematic perfection. The scene is superbly well-acted, and lingers with you even after the credits roll.

3. The Subtle Core

Earlier this year, Karen Gilmore, Editor-in-Chief of Reel Artsy outlined what she calls the subtle core movement in black film.  According to Karen:

In the Subtle Core tone is key. These films ask hard questions. They’re character driven and invoke a sense of emotion, revealing unexplored spheres of black life. Sometimes they’re funny. But at their core, they reach for the dramatic moments. I like to think of them as descendents of French New Wave, in an offbeat modernized hybrid way.

In my opinion, Middle of Nowhere is an extension of the subtle core movement, and Ava DuVernay is leading the charge. I love how Ava celebrates the quiet, simple moments in the lives of black women.   Ava’s attention to detail is impeccable.  Acts as simple as applying lotion after a shower or wrapping one’s hair before bed add another layer of reality to a story that already resonates with the black female audience. The writing and direction in Middle of Nowhere is beyond deserving of all the accolades it has received.

4. Because Oprah Said So:

Okay not really because Oprah said so,  BUT it is pretty cool that she tweeted her support for Ava and for the film.  And she is not the only one.  Other well-known folks such as writers Tananarive Due (one of my faves) and Terry McMillan have also shown their support for the film as well.

If you have not seen Middle of Nowhere yet, check out the trailer below:

Middle of Nowhere opened October 12 in limited release with new cities being added weekly.  For more information on expansion cities, ticket information, and lots of other great content, check out AFFRM.com.

 

 

 

In Short – “Middle of Nowhere: Journey of an Indie”

What a treat! Watch this awesome all-access behind-the-scenes short documentary Middle of Nowhere: Journey of an Indie. It chronicles the casting process, production, and film’s historic run at Sundance and beyond.

The short includes interviews with director Ava DuVernay, producer Howard Barish, as well as the amazing cast which includes Emayatzy Corninealdi, Omari Harwick, David Oyelowo, Edwina Findley, and the amazing Lorraine Toussaint. The short originally aired on BET.

Check it out:

Middle of Nowhere is currently in it’s 3rd week and is playing in over 20 cities. For the most up-to-date information information on the film and to find out where it’s playing near you, check out www.middlenowhere.com