Twitter Goes HAM for Actor Bae, John David Washington



On Thursday afternoon, it seemed as if the 40-and-under ladies of Twitter had made a shocking discovery. As it would turn out, everybody’s mama’s celebrity crush had created a “sequel” of sorts for a new generation of fans.

Or, to put it plainly: Heartthrob Denzel Washington has a grown-ass son. And he is finnnnnne, just like his daddy!

John David Washington, 31, is an actor who appeared alongside Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson in the HBO comedy series Ballers, which recently wrapped its first season. The show claimed the network’s best ratings for a comedy series in a decade, according to the New York Daily News.


John David Washington played Ricky Jerret, a flashy and troublesome receiver with a magnetic personality. Despite Washington’s scene-stealing performances, somehow the show came (in June) and went (in August) without most of the audience realizing he was Hollywood royalty, despite’s announcement in a headline in October 2013 when J.D. joined the Ballers cast: “Denzel Washington’s Son John David Washington Lands First Major Acting Role.”

I guess most viewers just weren’t paying attention to that ... or that the younger Washington sounds (often, but not always), looks and moves like his father. In fairness, this isn’t the same as the O’Shea Jackson (aka Ice Cube) situation, where father and son are practically identical. Depending on the angle, Washington looks more like his mom, Pauletta Washington, who has been married to Denzel since 1983. But still.

Ballers isn’t Washington’s first introduction to Hollywood. In 1992 he appeared in Malcolm X, which starred his father, who deserved the best actor Academy Award (he was nominated but didn’t win) for his turn as the slain civil rights leader. The younger Washington was credited as a “student in Harlem classroom” on IMDb, i.e., one of the kids who pop up from their chairs to yell, “I’m Malcolm X!” (He’s the first kid to say it.) Washington was also a co-producer for 2010’s The Book of Eli, which also starred his dad.

So, OK, some folks were a little late, but that’s probably not by accident. The younger Washington, who attended Morehouse College on a football scholarship and had a brief stint in the NFL, has a history of declining any attention that may come his way because of his famous father.

“Since I’ve known him, he has shunned away from media attention,” the younger Washington’s former football coach told ESPN in 2003. “He doesn’t want to get attention that the other guys on the team are not getting just because of his father. John David is a very humble young man from everything I’ve seen.”


Humble and apparently smart, too. Sure, Washington would have garnered more media—traditional and social—attention on Ballers by coasting off his father’s name, but he would also have been relentlessly compared with him, too. While I’m sure Washington wouldn’t hesitate to utilize his dad, and mom—who met her husband when they both performed in an off-Broadway play—for advice or introductions, I respect the younger Washington a little more for showcasing his talent instead of name-dropping his biological affiliations to get our attention.

Read full article on The Root 

The Root: Malia Obama's First Job & Why Black Folks Need Nepotism Too

Malia Obama & Dad President Obama’s eldest daughter, Malia, has landed her first job, and some people, despite the fact that it doesn’t affect them in any way whatsoever, aren’t happy about it.

According to news reports, the 15-year-old rising first daughter recently worked for a day as a production assistant on the CBS sci-fi series Extant. The show features award-winning actress Halle Berry, who plays an astronaut who returns home pregnant (!) after a year-long solo mission in space. Extant is produced by veteran director Steven Spielberg, who is a known and avid Obama supporter.

Certainly this is a dream come true for Malia, who turns 16 on July 4, given that her father mentioned her interest in filmmaking in a recent New Yorker article. An on-set insider told Hollywood trade blog TheWrap that the younger Obama’s duties for the day included helping with computer-shop alignments—whatever that means—and slating a take. The source also quoted Malia exclaiming about her experience, “My first time. This is a big deal!”

A first job is. Most of us weren’t as fortunate to start our careers in our dream field, even if our dreams weren’t as lofty as a production set helmed by one of the greatest directors of our time. Surely Dad pulled a string or two to get his eldest baby girl the hookup for that one. Malia’s job sounds like nepotism or cronyism, and that has made some folks mad.

“I don’t think that this young lady should have this position,” wrote one blog commenter, who added that as a mother and a business owner, she would not get her own kid a hookup. She reflected the general sentiment of naysayers when she added, “Parents with means have made it too easy for their kids. Thus, we have a whole population of spoiled little rich kids who feel entitled to have and do whatever they want!”

It’s inaccurate to assume that all the offspring of parents with “means” are spoiled and entitled, just as it is wrong to assume that all kids with less are hard workers. There are motivated, obnoxious  and straight-up lazy people in both groups.

That said, I still don’t get this argument. Like, did you really expect the first daughter to work at McDonald’s for her first job, like most teenagers? And for all the folks crying about this hookup, you do realize that nepotism—i.e., taking care of your family, friends and inner circle first—is what every other community of folks does, right? (See presidential daughter Chelsea Clinton’s $600,000 job at NBC.) It’s to create generational and community wealth as well as to gain access and power, a concept that black folks as a whole don’t always seem to grasp, even as, as one of my friends put it, black folks stay stuck with “this work-twice-as-hard-to-get-half-as-far struggle we be on ... ”

Too many folks who struggled to get somewhere want their children to do the same, and that’s not how folks who get ahead and stay ahead play to win. Why not offer your kid an alley-oop in life if you can? You do realize that everyone who can’t do so would if they were in your shoes, right? Everyone else who can does so that their kids can get one up on your child, the competition. Even you would take advantage of a hookup for a better shot if you could.

I’m curious: If you’re not working to build a legacy or to make sure that your children are better off than you, then what are you putting in the hours and the effort for? Just to do it and say you did?


Read more: here 

The Hollywood Reporter Wonders If Lupita is Too Dark for Hollywood? (Yes, Seriously)


Now that Hollywood’s award season has come to a close, perhaps it was inevitable that the fawning over media darling and Academy Award winner for best supporting actress Lupita Nyong’o would come to an end as well. The Hollywood Reporter put the official nail in the cliched coffin with its latest print issue, which asks on its cover, “What Happens to Lupita Now? How to Turn an ‘Exotic’ Actress A-List.”

The question may sound odd to those of us who don’t consider Nyong’o “exotic.” She’s not some rare bird with colorful, fluffy feathers that no one’s ever seen outside the Amazon; she’s a dark-skinned black woman, who exist everywhere, even if there aren’t enough women who fit that description in Hollywood. That cover line is also eyebrow-raising because for months now, we’ve all watched Nyong’o grace red carpets, rack up awards big and small and collect magazine covers and feature stories that highlight her remarkable beauty, delightful personality and impeccable fashion. But, as the Hollywood Reporter points out, it takes more than great press (or clothes) to make a star.

“But now that the ball is over and the applause is dying down, what can Nyong’o really expect from Hollywood? While the stage would appear to be set for her to ascend to the A-list—just as Jennifer Lawrence did after her best actress win for Silver Linings Playbook last year—it’s not that simple,” the magazine points out. “There’s never been a black actress who has become the equivalent of a Julia Roberts or Angelina Jolie.”

To be fair, several Academy Award-winning actresses have been cursed by their success. A 2012 story in Entertainment Weekly notes that the Oscar curse, which happens when an actress wins and then falls into oblivion, isn’t a trap reserved for black women. That article points out that actresses Renée Zellweger (1993Cold Mountain) and Kim Basinger (1997, L.A. Confidential) never rose to the lofty expectations after their Oscar wins.

But the Hollywood Reporter questions whether Nyong’o’s blackness and her dark complexion will further complicate her chances at reaching A-list status or even having a sustainable Hollywood career. It sounds harsh, but it’s a valid question. Despite being lauded as an “It Girl,”IMDb shows just one post-12 Years a Slave project on Nyong’o’s filmography, a minor role as a flight attendant in the Liam Neeson thriller Non-Stop.

In the article, a talent agent questions whether audiences can identify with Nyong’o because of her dark skin. “Would Beyoncé be who she is if she didn't look like she does?” Tracy Christian asked the Hollywood Reporter. "Being lighter-skinned, more people can look at her image and see themselves in her.”

Let us not pretend that when it comes to black women, Hollywood doesn’t overwhelmingly favor women with lighter complexions. However, the positive response to Nyong’o has been because of her unquestionable acting chops and because her beauty—short, textured hair and deep-hued skin—is a break from the norm. Contrary to popular belief, audiences do find beauty in a variety of complexions—yes, Hollywood, including darker complexions—and are eager to see more actresses who reflect the full scope of black beauty.

I believe Nyong’o’s biggest challenge moving forward won’t be her dark complexion but the limited roles that are afforded to black women in Hollywood.

Read more: here


From the Inside Looking Out (aka The Belated Birthday Post) Part 2

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 2.30.16 AMIt took forever for both of the contracts from the two different networks to come. They arrived the same day, which was oddly enough, the same day I published last year’s birthday post. Without even asking, the network for the scripted show sent an additional contract offering a “consulting producer” position. More or less, it guaranteed that I would have some input in the show. I know the nuances of my world as described in the book; they didn’t. I would fill in the knowledge gaps. That made me happy. My book, A Belle in Brooklyn, is my baby, the physical embodiment of a dream I wished for when I was 12. It took 20 years to make it come true. The additional title  meant I would be there to guide my book through her next steps.

It sounded too good to be true because it was. The main contract was standard, which is to say that it heavily favored the network. They wanted to own everything related to A Belle in Brooklyn, including my URL, the logo, the name “A Belle in Brooklyn”, and anything else “Belle”-affiliated, including any merchandise. Oh, and if the show ever made it on air, I couldn’t write a sequel to the book for approximately ten years and even then it couldn’t use any “characters” that I wrote about in the original book again. In laywoman’s terms, it meant that I wouldn’t be able to write about my life anymore.

I wanted a scripted show so bad that I actually  (and reluctantly) considered this.

I found a lawyer who used to run the legal department at another major network who told me a show would cost me, but I didn’t have to give up that much. It would also cost me financially. The lawyer knew the ins and outs of the business and even with a hook up, she was expensive. If I was lucky, the option rights for the book would cover what I would pay her when she was done re-working and negotiating with the network to get a contract that wasn’t asking for my soul.

In the end, I spent what the option clause the contract would have paid and then some—and never got anything in return. I sat through hours of phone calls at the most inconvenient of times. I was doing a speaking engagement in Colorado and instead of prepping, I was in my dressing room on the phone with my lawyer for an hour going over the latest contracts right until I walked on stage. I would go on vacation and stay  cooped up in my hotel room going over contracts. CBW would come by to visit, and I'd be sitting on the phone with my lawyers. I was on deadline for writing assignments, talking to my lawyer instead of cranking out essays, and watching the minutes move on the clock thinking about how much it was costing me and how pissed my editor would be if I missed my deadline… again.

There was also another lawyer to handle the contracts for the other network. That contract required the same level of negotiation. I would get off the phone with one lawyer and get on the phone with the other. Occasionally, I’d sit on the phone with both of them as they ironed out details and rights to make sure the contracts didn’t conflict with each other. I totaled the price of one of those hour- long calls once. I could have bought a pair of Louboutins.

Two TV deals on the table should have been heaven when I’d just been complaining about none. But I was in hell.

The time commitment to negotiating the contracts and the learning curve was killing me. The stress made me unbearable to be around or carry on anything but the most basic of conversations. I spent most of my time talking to producers and managers and lawyers and they were all throwing about terms that I’d never heard and percentages that I had no clue whether they were good or bad. My manager would bring up concerns in the contracts that I didn’t even know I was supposed to be concerned about. I’d asked to be kept in the loop of all the negotiations so I could learn the ropes, and I’d jump in and ask the most mundane of questions. Everyone always filled me in, happy to help. But at 33, I perpetually felt like a kid listening to the adults talk and no matter how hard I tried, I just wasn’t getting it.

A little bit of that feeling goes a long way. When you spend so much time feeling like most inadequate person in the room, it starts to affect the other rooms you go in. I couldn’t write the same. I started looking up words that I knew the meaning to because I wasn’t sure I was using them in the right context. It would take all-day to write competent articles when it used to take a couple hours tops to make something borderline profound. I’d be scared to push the Send button to my editors with fear someone would write back “um, what is this?” And then that actually happened which messed me up even worse.

I was going crazy. I debated with actual seriousness saying “f*** it” to both contracts and writing all together.  I told this all to Tariq who confirmed I wasn’t crazy, just scared and overwhelmed.

He pointed out that I was doing it right. I’d hired the best to advocate for me. I’d assembled an amazing team of women (as a testament, whenever anyone in the business asks who my lawyer, manager or producers are, I’m met with an impressed look after I answer) and I should just let them do their jobs.

“It will all work out,” he promised. I wanted to believe him. I wanted to believe in myself. But I’d negotiated away so much of what mattered to me and I’d been in over my head so long and I’d felt so damned dumb, I wasn’t sure who I was anymore.


The negotiations for the scripted show took longer than the time to finalize the reality show, tape it, and it was damn near about to be announced when I finally got a final word on what I’d started to think of as “my show”, which didn’t even exist.

I’d realized months before that something wasn’t right with the scripted deal. I’d pushed the feeling down, blaming my outsider-ness and lack of understanding about the way Hollywood operates. It’s a “hurry up and wait” schedule, I was told. “It’s fine. Everything’s fine.” Until it wasn’t.

I should have listened to myself.

I got the news soon after I’d hopped on a plane to LA to get away from New York hang out with my friends, put in face-time with my team and most importantly, to check on my “baby” cousin, a 20 year old from NOLA who wanted to be an actress. She’d bought a one-way ticket headed West a month prior to chase her dream, a move I didn’t fully approve of.

I took her to dinner in Century City the first night, the same way my relatives and friends of my parents did for me when I moved to New York. I remembered what it meant to have a concerned adult present with a listening ear, and a meal at a decent restaurant, something that had become a luxury. And I'd planned to tell her  she should go back home, get her business in order, and return when it was.

In so many words, she told me she was broke, and at the bottom of the totem pole, but she was where she wanted to be, in LA, and just taking that first step toward her dream despite all the (massive) problems-- like not having a car in LA--  that came with it. She was happy.

I remembered being that girl. In my version I sat on my parents back porch with a Master’s degree and no job, praying “God, just give me a chance to compete. I can make it if I get a chance.” My parents didn't want me to go. I got an offer paying next-to-nothing for a government job in NYC, moved and took a second job where I worked 13 days straight, two days off for a year. My parents thought I was crazy. I was living my dream.

I realized as she talked that I would have been a hypocrite to give her the “you should go home” speech, and I figured she was hearing it from everyone else anyway, the same way I did. It meant a lot then-- and now-- for someone to say,"I'm in your corner" when I felt like no one was.  So I told her I was and gave her a “you gotta want this like your life depends on it” soliloquy. It ended with, “balls to the wall, baby. But not, like, balls, because you don’t have balls, cause you’re a girl. Maybe boobs... Boobs to the wall! That sounds painful. But you know what I mean, right?”

I added, "oh, and that means taking the bus."

She nodded at me across the table and said, “I want this… more than anything, B.”

I smiled at her the way the grown ups used to smile at me at dinner. I always thought it was pity for me being broke and naïve in a big city and dinner was an act of charity. It was actually them remembering their own journey as I spoke, remembering it fondly and recognizing how far they’d come from their own beginnings. I think they were also enjoying the hope that still flourishes in people who haven’t been in over their heads long enough to fear drowning. I certainly was and I was getting more out of that dinner than she was.

For the first time in months, I actually didn’t feel crazy. I actually felt... happy.

The following week, baby cousin sent me a selfie from the bus. She was headed to an audition, and yes, she got the job.


Part 3: Soon come.