Let’s face it: with a nine-to-five, a budding business, side-hustles, gettin’ it right and keepin’ it tight and plenty of things to do and people to see; you don’t always have the time for TV. If you’re anything like I am – a TV lover, desperate for more hours in the day – your DVR is full and you have a growing list of shows you wish you had the time to catch.
If you do manage to find that extra hour, the first thing you need to do is contact us and tell us how you did it! Then, you need to add these picks -- which you might’ve missed when they first aired years ago -- to your life. They’re definitely worth every extra second of free time you can get.
The Show: Arrested Development, Originally Aired: 2003 - 2006
Who You Might Recognize: Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Portia de Rossi
Why You Should Watch: This show is so beloved that nearly seven years after it was cancelled, the cast decided to reunite for a new season set to air on Netflix in January. Folks just can’t seem to get enough of watching the Bluth’s lives fall apart when the head of their family goes to jail for embezzling company funds. Smart, hysterical and timely, Arrested Development has a cult-like following among fans. After you watch the first episode, you’ll probably hop on Google to find out where you can sign up.
The Show: The Wire, Originally Aired: 2002 - 2008
Who You Might Recognize: Idris Elba, Dominic West, Michael K. Williams, Tristan Wilds
Why You Should Watch Now: Frequently listed as one of the greatest TV dramas ever made, The Wire has top-notch writing and a remarkable cast of character actors. These include a bunch of profanity-spitting cops, sympathetic corner boys, and a much-feared, gay stick-up man who only robs drug dealers. This is the show that you don’t want to admit you’ve never seen at a dinner party. President Obama says it’s one of the greatest shows of all time and Idris Elba is in it. Enough said.
The Show: Freaks and Geeks, Originally Aired: 1999 - 2000
Who You Might Recognize: James Franco, Busy Phillips, Jason Segel, Seth Rogen
Why You Should Watch: James Franco, Busy Phillips, Jason Segel, and Seth Rogen. I could stop there but, seriously, when I discovered this show I watched every episode in a day. In reality, that isn’t that hard to do because -- due to poor ratings -- it was canceled only after its first season despite critical acclaim. It’s hard to believe a show that includes some of today’s most sought-after actors could be so short-lived...but it’s sadly true. That’s the only terrible thing about this Judd Apatow-produced drama, which chronicles the universal horror of being a teenager in high school. When you finish the 18th and final episode you will be absolutely distraught that there’s no more to take in.
The Show: Six Feet Under, Originally Aired: 2001 - 2005
Who You Might Recognize: James Cromwell, Michael C. Hall, Freddy Rodriguez
Why You Should Watch: Seven years before Alan Ball introduced a bunch of deranged Louisiana vampires to the world on HBO’s True Blood, he created this jewel. Six Feet Under follows the dysfunctional Fisher family. Who doesn’t have a few crazy family members? Well, imagine if those relatives were forced to run a funeral home together. That’s Six Feet Under. Death is the thread that runs through all five seasons but it’s not as depressing as it sounds. There’s plenty of drama, sex and dark humor all around.
The Show: My So-Called Life, Originally Aired: 1994 – 1995
Who You Might Recognize: Claire Danes
Why You Should Watch: You know that glorious lip-quiver Claire Danes does on every episode of Homeland that people can’t seem to get enough of? Well, she first perfected that quiver back in the ‘90s when she played an introspective 15-year-old on My So-Called Life. Yes, there are plenty of high school dramas, but none were quite as bold as this one, which aired at a time when you didn’t put gay teens or drug abuse on TV -- especially for an entire season. Don’t be turned off by the young cast. These teens are smart and will leave you relieved high school is long over.
With the holiday season underway – and hopefully some much-needed vacay on the horizon – now is the perfect time to catch up on all of the great TV you might’ve missed. Take a break from your daily hustle and get sucked into other people’s drama-filled lives. I’m certain that none of these stories will disappoint, or make you want to rush back to real life any time soon.
Do you have any favorite TV shows you think we should be watching? Please, do tell!
Sherlock Holmes stories have been around since the late 1800’s, and they’ve survived this long for a reason. Sherlock is, simply, a fun and intriguing character. Most recently, you may have caught an episode of the new CBS series, “Elementary,” which stars Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller in a modern adaptation of the Sherlock Holmes stories, set in New York. Now I love Sherlock, but I couldn’t stand the idea of watching the show. I have nothing against CBS or Lucy Liu; the problem is that my heart has already found another modern-day Holmes.
In 2010, the BBC launched their modern day Sherlock Holmes series told through three 90 minute episodes. Sherlock stars Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character and Martin Freeman as Dr. John Watson. In this series, Sherlock is portrayed as a genius consulting detective to the London Metropolitan Police Department. He is assisted by his flatmate, Watson, who is a medical doctor fresh from the war in Afghanistan.
This is not the Sherlock Holmes you read in school, but this modern day retelling does the original stories justice. Set in present day Britain, Watson and Holmes now have the power of the Internet and cell phones behind them. Watson even blogs about their cases! Much like some of my other favorite dramas on the air (Breaking Bad, Mad Men), each episode feels like a mini movie and each episode leaves you wanting so much more.
The writing for this show is absolutely brilliant. Not only are the cases complex, dark and full of twists and turns, but they also borrow several plot lines and characters from the book series, while giving them a modern edge. I personally enjoyed The Hound of the Baskervilles episode and the re-imagining of Holmes’s arch nemesis, James Moriarty. In fact, this Moriarty is so scary, actor Andrew Scott won a BAFTA for portraying him. So although this is a modern day crime drama, lovers of the classic literary version won’t be disappointed.
Aside from thrilling plot lines, the writing truly brings the characters from these classic novels to life. Watching Holmes and Watson live and work together explores the idea of a “bromance”in the 21st century with great humor (a lot of characters in the show assume Holmes and Watson are in a relationship). Watson is the everyman, while Sherlock is a superman. Watson follows his heart and Sherlock uses his head.
The actors who play Holmes and Watson are also superb. Freeman is extremely loveable as Watson. You instantly feel compassion toward him not only because he is a war hero and a loyal friend, but also because he has to put up with and defend Sherlock on a day to day basis. He imbues Sherlock with a sense of humanity. As loveable as Freeman is in his role as Watson, Cumberbatch is the star of the show without question. His Sherlock is spot on. He is funny, snobby, awkward and irritatingly intelligent. He literally does not stop thinking and grows impatient when others do not catch on so quickly enough. He is always one step ahead of the audience and the other characters, which is what makes the show genuinely entertaining.
This past season there were moments when you felt like Sherlock had too much of an ego, but before you write him off as a jerk, the writers include subtle glimpses into his humanity. His friendship with Watson really brings out the best in him – and isn’t that what good friends are for? The dynamic between the two characters is very touching and tender without being romantic. The two perfectly complement each other, and I fear that dynamic would be lost with Watson cast as a woman (as in CBS’s verson). In the BBC’s Sherlock, we are left to focus on the crime at hand and how Watson and Sherlock will save each other or solve the next crime, not about when they will finally end up together.
I should disclose that I am also a fan of the recent film adaptations by Guy Ritchie, starring Robert Downey Jr. I read that Cumberbatch is actually a fan of Downey’s portrayal as well. With so many adaptations of this character throughout the years, Sherlock creators had a tough task at hand to capture just the right Holmes on television. And I think they did. This version helps us to revisit the books with a newfound sense of understanding and insight.
The second season of Sherlock aired in 2012 and was released on Netflix a couple of weeks ago. The third season is scheduled to be filmed in early 2013. While the wait is excruciating for fans, it gives new viewers ample opportunity to catch up and see what the show is all about. If you like quirky crime dramas like Bones, Monk or The Mentalist, or are a fan of literature and all things British, this show is definitely your cup of tea. Prepare to get Sherlocked.
Every Olympic year the media highlights the athletes and the debauchery associated with the Olympic Village. The press weaves tales of baskets overflowing with condoms, cups overflowing with liquor and athletes who are in dire need of release after dealing with stress associated with the games. But there's one thing they rarely discuss: the camaraderie. Obviously sex, drugs and partying are far more sensational, and the media is notorious for sharing delicate information. Unfortunately, over the course of London 2012, the media’s spotlight took a decidedly negative glare with the release of financial information about Gaby Douglas's mom and Ryan Lochte's family, and viewers have made hurtful commentary, ranging from talks of poor performance to the bashing of hair styles. However, given that the Olympic Games are about dream fulfillment, competition, and inspiration, there's no reason that the positive aspects shouldn't be brought to the forefront.
Thankfully, a very good friend, and member of the Croatian Track and Field Team, invited me into the Olympic Village this year. I was excited and honored to make the trip across the pond to see with my own eyes what really goes down when a city is flooded with Olympic athletes. I was astounded to see clusters of brand new, luxury apartments, their balconies adorned with the flags of the countries they represented. And, despite the varying ideals and values of each country, the Olympic Village truly felt like a community of supportive peers. Granted, in the end, many of these athletes would be competing against each other in pursuit of the Gold; however, for the few calm moments they had within the village, these athletes were in a very exclusive global fraternity.
From the moment my friend walked me into the Village, he was greeted by other athletes and coaches. They chatted, caught up on performances and were sure to find out when each other's next rounds of competition were. In an effort to make athletes comfortable, the community housed the following: a Dining Hall, with everything from Mediterranean to Caribbean cuisine; a Hospitality Center, complete with Wii's, pool tables, computers and a Beats by Dre recording studio; a Fitness Center; a Health Center that included dental as well as general medical care; and a Wellness Center with free massage. I'm sure that the list could go on but, as a visitor, I didn't have time to view the whole campus. These amenities did more than just create a 'cool' environment for the athletes, they provided a common space to bond. Sprinters from Brazil and Judo competitors from Russia played pool, while a Jumper from Trinidad recorded in the Beats studio. Regardless of everyone's country or sport, competitors mixed, mingled and made friends.
As far as celebrations went, teams had their own rituals. For example, every time anyone from Croatia won a medal, the entire team would stand at the entrance of the Village to cheer and welcome the medalist back. If there was any room for doubt that the athlete's hard work and performance had gone unnoticed, this was erased.
Olympic games are all about competition but somehow there was a spirit of camaraderie in the air. While inside the Village, I was given a ticket to the Evening Track and Field session along with a shirt that read: Iran, E Haddadi. Haddadi would be competing in the discus final that evening. I, along with a few competitors from other countries, proudly donned the shirt and cheered Haddadi on. The Iranian discus thrower went on to win a silver medal, no doubt with help from his cheer section's intensity.
Now, not all of the athletes stayed in the Village. Some chose to remove themselves from what could be too distracting, instead opting to stay in flats or hotels. In fact, the USA Men's basketball team stayed off site (the beds may have been a touch too small). Of course, when it comes down to it, an athlete must do what they need to to be as comfortable as possible, so that they can perform well.
While I’m sure that the sex and partying that the media glorifies does happen, my trip to the Olympic Village showed me an entirely different scenario. I saw a group of talented, gifted and hardworking people bonding, unwinding together, and cheering each other on through each of their respective competitions. It was an inspiring insight into their world, and I’m thankful to have gotten a glimpse.
You walk into the office Monday morning, ready to take on the world with your new outfit from the "Damn I Look Good" corporate collection... and then Here. She. Go. Little miss can't be wrong. Little miss my 'ish don't stank. You may also know her as The Office Mean Girl or as the woman who lives to make your day a living hell. But you are a Made Woman, right? And you're not going to let her see you sweat. Here are some ways to beat down.... I mean handle her in a professional manner that makes you look great while neutralizing her mean girl ways.
Beats By Dre headphones are not just fashionable ear candy for basketball players and rich kids from the suburbs, they are also great for drowning out the insane chatter of the office mean girl. The noise canceling headphones provide the perfect escape from the 15 loud and meaningless phone conversations she has all day long that your boss never seems to hear. To add a little bit of kick to this tactic, listen to the most hardcore rap lyrics you have in your iPod and quietly whisper them to yourself at your desk. She will think twice before coming to your cubicle as you recite lyrics from "Straight Out Of Compton."
Photoshop makes everything better and it can do the same for your mean girl situation. Photoshop some pictures of you on a tropical island with a hot guy. Or maybe one of you on Fifth Avenue in New York having fun with your best girlfriends. Take these photos and hang them up in your cubicle and watch the mean girl crumble. Deep down inside she is as insecure as they come, and seeing photos of you being fabulous in your everyday life will tug at her ugly soul.
You don't really need Photoshop to be look your best, you are pretty damn amazing in real life. So let's show her. Come to work in your best outfits with your hair perfect for a week straight and watch the compliments start flying your way. When people compliment you stay humble and say things like "I've had this for years" or "Got it on discount girl." Little miss mean girl will see this and possibly spontaneously implode in her cubicle.
Two Can Play That Game
She didn't invent the mean girl game and she certainly won't finish it, so if you can't beat 'em join 'em. She isn't the only one who can rat someone out for taking too long of a lunch hour. Also, remember when she took home those pens and Post-Its from the office supply cabinet? That's pilfering company property and your boss should know about it.
When she wants to strike up conversation about her trip to Cabo San Lucas and how she has no split ends and you need to moisturize, don't answer back or reply coyly. Give her the face. She won't know what hit her.
Discover Her Kryptonite
Is she a vegetarian with a gluten allergy? One day you should order meat lovers pizza filled with gluten goodness that mean girl can't enjoy, unless she fancies a trip to the emergency room. Or maybe she is going on a diet, even though she looks emaciated already, and you just happened to order two dozen Krispy Kreme donuts. Oopsie!
There is no more powerful tool in your office arsenal than email. Like a ninja, you must learn to use it in your ambush on mean girl. Send an office-wide email to a hot new happy hour that your friend from Warner Brothers is throwing where Common, Kirko Bangz and other cool people will be present. The trick is to leave mean girl off the email list. Put everyone's name in the BCC: field so that she can’t see she wasn't invited. Another stealth email trick is when mean girl decides to send you the third snarky and condescending email of the day, BCC: your supervisor so s/he can see her true colors. Checkmate, chick.
Hollywood studios consistently feed us ‘commercial’ fare. They think that all we want are big explosions, action heroes, supermodels and a source of escapism that requires little thought. But after you’ve gone deaf from explosions in movies like Battleship, what’s next? For those of you with a hankering for stories with far less Hollywood ‘glitz” and a different perspective, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite foreign films of all time. None of these films are for a lazy night in. They’ll make you think, learn, laugh and even cry.
So now, in no particular order:
1. A Separation (2011, Asghar Farhadi)
A Separation addresses issues surrounding family, loyalty, faith and justice. The actors are phenomenal and it’s no wonder that it won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012. Its win was a huge victory for Iranian cinema.
2. The Seventh Seal (1957, Ingmar Bergman)
You have to be in a very special mood to watch anything by Ingmar Bergman. You’ll have to read subtitles and interpret subtext. This film might be difficult to find on Netflix, but the Criterion Collection is sure to provide a beautiful copy. Watch this on a night you’re interested in exploring existentialism… you know.. like a Wednesday.
3. Saving Face (2012, Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy)
This must watch film won the Academy Award for best documentary short in 2012. It explores acid attacks on women in Pakistan. I cried for the entire film. It’s always refreshing to have a real, visceral reaction to a film. Everyone should see this.
4. El Abuelo (1998, Jose Luis Garci)
The first time I saw El Abuelo was in my 11th grade AP Spanish class. At the time, I wasn’t aware that it was nominated for an Oscar. The film explores heavy issues surrounding war and family, but I must say El Abuelo made me fall in love with foreign cinema. A must see!
5. 8½ (1963, Fredrico Fellini)
The Criterion Collection will come to the rescue once again if you search for 8 ½. This film is a little avant-garde so you may have to take a leap of faith. Trust, this 2-time Academy Award winner, about a film director’s creative struggle, is worth the watch.
6. Biutiful (2012, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu)
I’m not embarrassed to admit that Biutiful made me cry. Without giving too much away, the film follows one man as he fights to provide for his family in the moments leading up to his death. It’s incredibly well acted and directed.
If that’s not enough to satisfy your craving, here are other foreign films to consider: Breathless, Circumstance, Sin Nombre, Abel, Fanny and Alexander, Like Water For Chocolate, Chico & Rita and the list could go on.
I hope you enjoy these selections! And please, post below if you have a suggestion of your own.
What would summer be without fun, friends, a mimosa or two, and—of course—great music! Wherever your life takes you this summer, be sure to have your soundtrack ready. If you’re having some trouble putting together your own mix, let Made Woman help provide some inspiration with a few tracks we picked out.
“Dancing in the Moonlight”-Toploader
Summer nights are perfect for making memories with friends, family or that special someone. Let this song by Toploader play and invoke carefree vibes in you and your loved ones.
Uh oh! Usher is going back to his soulful roots with this one. Is he moving away from techno beats for good? No telling. But this track reminds us that he can always make us want to dance.
“We Are Young”-Fun. ft. Janelle Monae
Act as young as you feel and let the merriment commence. Now don’t go and start an all out bar fight, but don’t be afraid to take a walk on the wild side!
“Get Me Bodied”-Beyonce
Calling all ladies! Single or not, don’t forget to have a night on the town with your besties this summer. Show the world what you’re working with and how you rock it!
“Anything We Want”-Fiona Apple
Fiona Apple’s shaky yet powerful vocals captivate you as the cryptic melody tumbles along. I love how she embraces the ambiguity and create music so uniquely her own.
“California Love”-2Pac ft. Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman
When you think of great weather and parties, California always comes to mind. This classic is guaranteed to take to you back and remind you of a different time in hip hop.
Kimbra is definitely an up-and-comer to watch. If you’re sick of “Somebody that I Used to Know” at this point, you’ll enjoy hearing her on this upbeat throwback track.
“Let's Go”-Ne-Yo & David Guetta
Another song with a great club beat, this is sure to keep the hot summer spots packed. How could you hear this and not want to dance?
“Off to the Races”-Lana Del Rey
While Lana Del Rey is known for her slower, somber melodies, something about her music and visuals just scream “summer.” This is one for your more low-key summer moments.
Azealia’s flow and fresh blend of hip hop and house makes her one of the coolest female emcees out right now. You can’t help but pick up her confident, carefree vibe when you listen to this one. She does have a mouth on her, though, so this one isn’t for the faint of heart!
What’s in heavy rotation on your iPod? Tell us in the comments below!
We’ve all seen the classic Disney film Snow White. After watching it a zillon times and riding the ride at Disneyland more times than I care to admit, the storyline is embedded in my brain. Hollywood just won’t let go, however -- Mirror, Mirror was released this spring and Snow White and the Huntsman just hit theaters last weekend. Honestly, I had very little desire to see the latest installment, directed by Rupert Sander and starring Kristen Stewart, but my boyfriend really wanted to see it (#truestory). And since relationships are about the art of compromise, I accompanied him to a matinee this weekend. To my surprise, I was glad I did.
You might think you know the story of Snow White, but this is a wild, new ride through the classic tale. While it stays true to the basics (7 dwarves, a poison apple, a mirror), it is full of adventurous twists and turns, and is by no means predictable. It also deviates nicely from the original Brothers Grimm version, making this adaptation its own unique story.
The solid plotline is backed by an even cooler cast. I’m somewhat scared to admit this online, but I’ve never been a Twilight fan, so this was my first experience watching Kristen Stewart on the big screen. I had my doubts, but was pleasantly surprised to see her play the role of a kickass Snow White with ease. She doesn’t just stand on the sidelines and watch her prince go to war for her, she picks up a sword and shield and leads the way. It’s a welcome departure to see an anti-Disney princess. Her call to battle and storming the gates of the Queen’s castle was probably my favorite part. I would definitely go into battle beside this Snow White; she’s ride or die.
Even though you are rooting for Snow White the entire movie, you have to love Charlize Theron as Ravenna, Snow White’s wicked stepmother. Charlize’s portrayal of a truly vain and evil queen is fascinating to watch. Since the traditional villain in Disney movies is usually ugly or an old stepmother, it’s a great spin to see beautiful woman embrace such a dark role. (And I have to take a moment to give mad props to the costume designer on this film. Charlize’s outfits and regalia were gorgeous!) Ravenna thinks she is avenging all the men who have wronged her, and feasts on hearts and youth to gain strength. But her vanity is toxic and her narcissism is, of course, what causes her downfall. So Snow White must hate this b@*( right? Nope! She never spouts hate for her stepmom. In fact, she says she feels only sorrow for her. While I never really pitied the queen, I enjoyed the contrast between two strong female characters who both felt they were doing what was best. The major difference is Snow White is interested in what is best for everyone, and Ravenna is interested in what’s best for herself.
So what about the prince in this movie? Chris Hemsworth played the Huntsman, and I really enjoyed his performance. I am in no way a Thor fan, but he killed this role. He is your typical anti-hero, and perhaps the most human and relatable of all the characters. Despite being down on his luck, he is extremely loyal. He is also rebellious and slow to fall under the spell of Snow White, but when he does, they make a great team.
Snow White and the Huntsman is action packed and a great visual feast, with amazing costumes, great set design and, of course, Chris Hemsworth. It’s not your typical retelling, not the Snow White you grew up with, and it’s not even really a love story. This is a movie about standing up for what you believe in and the power of kindness. Since we live in a society that is fueled by vanity, it’s nice to see a movie depicting the pitfalls of it. Snow White and the Huntsman promotes inner beauty, strength, and women standing up for themselves. For a great summer action film, forget The Avengers and see Snow White in a whole new light.
My plan was to attend the special screening of Chernobyl Diaries and write a generic horror movie review of it for you all. I expected the obligatory gore and women falling down as they ran away from pursuing predators. You know, the typical devices found in scary movies. As it turned out, this movie was more suspenseful than I expected… and I watched most of it from behind my hands. Directed by Brad Parker and produced by Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity), the film relies on a shaky camera and much of the time, light from only a flashlight to scare the bejesus out of you. Yes, this movie uses tired plot points – dark hallways, the Blair Witch like footage—but it was a fun ride. Don’t expect too much logic, meaning or purpose from this film, but do expect to jump in your seat at least once.
The idea of going to area contaminated by radiation and deserted by all humankind may not seem like the best vacation destination to people like you and I, but for four Americans, Chris (Jesse McCartney), his brother Paul (Jonathan Sadowski), his girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley), and friend Amanda (Devin Kelley), this sounds like a brilliant idea. The group is led by ex-military operative turned tour-guide Uri to Pripyat, a ghost town near Chernobyl and the site of a 1986 nuclear disaster. They are joined by two backpackers who don’t speak English very well (bets were on for them dying first).
As the movie gets going, the group finds out that they are actually not alone and are being hunted by someone (or something). As is the case in any good horror movie, this crew gets deeper and deeper into the hot mess they created when the old, rickety van they used to make the trip won’t start and they’re stuck in no man’s land. Surprise, surprise. Their plan to get back home: Sleep in the car overnight and then walk back. In the radiation and wild animal infested woods. Good plan.
Looking like the Mickey Mouse club lost in the woods, they stumble and scream their way around this abandoned city. I actually got a kick out of watching the group make one dumb decision after the other, i.e. “Oh, look! There is a dark scary hallway…let’s go that way!” The wins for this film are the way the director plays on your senses; the only lighting is from a flashlight, so you are left with this claustrophobic feeling, unsure of what is lurking in the dark. There is also a sense of urgency created by the location. If they don’t get out of dodge soon, the radiation will seep into them. I liked watching the characters slowly realize that there was a good chance they may not make it out of there. It was especially gratifying to watch Paul -- the fearless idiot who suggested this “extreme tourism” trip in the first place—as his adventurous attitude slowly dissolved into terror.
Yes, this movie uses tired plot points – dark hallways, the Blair Witch like footage—but it was a fun ride. Don’t expect too much logic, meaning or purpose from this film, but do expect to jump in your seat at least once.
With no space to waste on your DVR, its important to know which shows you need to catch and which you can skip. Here is a preview of what the summer TV season has to offer:
I’m not going to lie; last summer this show was my guilty pleasure. I can’t do nonstop-drama shows like Basketball Wives and all that nonsense, but there was something about Single Ladies that made me overlook the blatant ignorance and poor representations of black women and DVR the hell out of it. Maybe it was the way the fashion choices veer from hawt to hot mess with each episode. Maybe it was the parade of beautiful
people men, with everyone from T.O. to Common making guest appearances. But this season opener made me seriously rethink my ladies night TV pick. I mean, how did the already bad acting and plot lines get worse?? Stacy Dash playing Val, with her showstopper body and incredibly naïve storyline, is gone. Replacing her is the younger, but no more believable, Denise Vasi as Raquel, whose storyline is so disempowering (she leaves her high paying job to become a wannabe model?). LisaRaye as Keisha and Charity Shea as April have the same complicated storylines, but without Stacy Dash to anchor all the drama everything seems way too convoluted. In short, I think I am going to be switching over to re-runs of Sex In The City on ladies night. It never fails!
Sigh. Yet another singing competition show hits the airwaves just in time for the summer season. Duets features Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Robin Thicke and Jennifer Netters, who are not only mentors for a group of up-and-coming singers, but also singing partners who compete with them as well. Potentials from around the country will perform alongside these stars in order to win a recording contract with Hollywood Records. I’m not sure how this show based around a recycled premise plans to cover new ground, especially since Kelly Clarkson and Robin Thicke are already regulars on The Voice, but I do know that my momma is already hooked.
Premiering June 13th TNT is bringing back the classic 80’s soap Dallas. Not quite sure how they managed to resurrect Patrick Duffy (Dallas, Step By Step) for this one, but the cast including Jesse Metcalfe (Desperate Housewives) and Josh Henderson should liven things up. This show is bound to be chalk full of drama and backstabbing. Nowhere else on TV will you be able to watch a rich family torture each other and lie, cheat, steal in order to get even richer. Oh, wait I forgot about the Kardashians…
Everyone’s favorite group of vampires, witches, fairies, werewolves and shapeshifters are back starting on June 10! The last season of True Blood left viewers with a lot of questions. Is Tara really dead? What is going on with Arlene and Terry? How the hell does Sookie manage to have 3 of the hottest men in town all drooling over her? Will we ever get tired of hearing Bill say “SOOK-EH!”? True Blood loves reveling in its completely over the top fantasy-world and getting as wild and out there as possible, and that’s what makes watching this show so much fun. Even when some of the story arcs get a little ridiculous (Jason in a cult, anyone?), this show is impossible to tear yourself away from. You never know what new thing they’re going to cook up next, and it definitely doesn’t hurt that you get to watch Alcide’s amazing body running around shirtless, either. My DVR is already set!
This one is not for the casual couch potato. The Newsroom is a fast paced, new drama starring Jeff Daniels (THE Jeff Daniels! Love that guy.) that explores what happens when a news anchor actually, you know, tells the truth. The preview for this one looks like what might happen if Bill O’Reilly took a truth serum right before his show. And maybe a few shots of vodka. It has me intrigued. Can people really tell the truth on TV?? The Newsroom plans to find out. Premiering June 24th on HBO, vote yes for original, scripted television and tune in for this one.
This article was originally published on "Wilson's Where To Guide."
This past holiday season in December, I attended Hill Harper and Nate Parker’s Annual Manifest Your Destiny Toy Drive at Drai’s Hollywood.
On a trip to the ladies’ room, I ran into the lovely Brely Evans, who you may remember from her hilarious Twix candy commercial (shown below), her role in Just Wright as Queen Latifah’s friend and who you’ll now see in the upcoming remake of Sparkle, being released this summer.
Her warm, friendly smile was just as radiant as her energetic, bold personality, so I found myself excited to talk with her, rattling off about her acting projects, my blog and everything else. We parted ways, promising to link up again for an interview. And, later on as I caught glimpses of her working her way around the room with such charm and confidence, I knew she was someone with a great story to share.
And what a great story she had!
During our meeting at one of her favorite LA destinations, The Viceroy, Ms. Evans shed light on everything, from how she transitioned from her girl group Emage into films to what it was like working with the late Whitney Houston.
I’ve split up the interview into two parts: this week’s part touches upon her professional endeavors and acting career, and the second part, debuting next week, sheds light on where she “where to’s” in Los Angeles and around the world.
Ms. Evans: Oh my goodness, the experience was a-maz-ing. My wonderful girlfriend Jeanette Jenkins who is a celebrity fitness trainer was like, “Brely! You’re not famous because no one knows you’re alive. We’re gonna produce some videos on you and put it on YouTube. Everyone else is getting famous off YouTube.” So we got a camera crew, we wrote a show out called The Brely Show, and I begin to do these sketches. At the time, Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” was hot. So I was like, “Beyonce? You mean Brelonce? She got it from me!” And we put those sketches up, and it wasn’t like it got 15 million hits, because that’s usually what happens. Mine maybe you know, soared around 2,000, maybe even sometimes, 100, 300, because things started to cook for me around the 300 range. Maybe not a lot of people saw it, but the right people saw it.
And, the story is, when the cast was taping Just Wright, and I affectionately call Dana my – well, Queen Latifah – I call her my big sister. She was laughing at some of my videos on set – this is the story I hear – it’s been passed down so many times. And her and Paula Patton were watching them, and Paula goes, “Dana has this little sister that’s the world’s best kept secret. She dances, she sings. She’s an actress. She’s amazing. Why doesn’t she put her in anything?” Then Dana’s laughing, “Are you talking about Brely? That’s not my real sister.” The director [Sanaa Hamri] happens to walk in and she was like “I have a little one-liner for her.” So they gave me one line.
And in the beginning of the movie while the credits are still coming up, you’ll see me come in with Queen Latifah into the hospital. I play a physical therapist. I come in and I go, “Whatcha gonna wear for your date tonight?” And we both go, “black.” That was my one line.
I got in my trailer and I was like, “Thank you, Jesus! I’m in a film! Oh my god, a huge film!” Got a knock on my trailer door and they were like, “you’ll be here all week. We just love your energy. Can you learn these lines and be ready?” I was supposed to be there for one day, for one line. I ended up staying to the wrap of the movie. My name was CO-WORKER 1 and I went to SABRINA GILLAR, being Queen Latifah’s best friend at the hospital. It was an avalanche. It was great.
Miss Wilson: Did Queen Latifah or the director give you any words of advice on "making it" in the industry?
Ms. Evans: Not really advice, but more so inspiration and telling me, “Girl, you got this. We’re waiting on you. You can do this.” They gave me inspiration and the go get 'em attitude that I needed to succeed.
Miss Wilson: And I read that you were in a gospel stage play with Shirley Murdock and you also worked with Whitney Houston in Sparkle. Was it inspirational as well to work with these women?
Ms. Evans: Can I just say, this is when you’re glad you used to be in a singing group! The Shirley Murdock thing happened first. I had come off the movie Just Wright, gotten home, was like “Oh my Lord, this is great.” My phone rang. It's the director. I had auditioned for this play nine months prior but didn’t get it. He said we’re reviewing our tapes and we would like to have you come in for the lead role and you’re gonna be playing opposite – not come in, excuse me, we’re gonna give it to you – opposite Shirley Murdock. I was thinking, I get to sing onstage with Shirley Murdock. You know her vocals are crazy, right? So I went to Boston and we did this stage play. She’s like another mother. She’s a very spiritual woman. She’s like “God has created in you something that the world needs to see and let them see it. Don’t be ashamed. Be bold and be you, because there’s none like you.”
Now fast-forward to just getting off the movie Sparkle. Whitney Houston. First of all, walking on set and seeing her, you’re kind of like quiet, and you’re like, "Oh my god. That is Whitney Houston." And you’re just kind of watching her every move, seeing how she eats, how she picks up her purse, how she’s talking to people. And then she looks over at you like, “Come here, baby. What’s your name?” And I’m like, “Umm, Brely?” – I turned into a baby. So we’re all loosening up around her and she’ll start singing, playing her gospel music, so we all start singing, too. And she’s like, "do this, baby" [Brely sings a couple of runs]. And we’re singing and she’s telling us how to do different runs. Crazy. And again, she was like, “I’ma call you niece. You my niece.” I was like, thank you!
And Derek Luke? An amazing actor. Just to watch his process and how on set he’s very solemn and quiet. He doesn’t do a lot of talking because he’s in character the whole time. Omari Hardwick, who is super fine. Can I get that on tape? He's about to get married soon, but girl, you know what you got. He’s amazing and loving, and they just embraced me like, oh there’s the baby on the set, because I’m kind of new. But although Jordin Sparks is also new to the film, she did an amazing job.
Working with Salim Akil – you know the Akils obviously from The Game and Girlfriends – T.D. Jakes was on set. I’m just overwhelmed by being a part of such people who have done great things in their career, and that my talent allowed me to be a part of that.
Miss Wilson: It sounds like you had a lot of mentors who took you under their wing. Would you say that’s the norm in Hollywood, or is that something that’s rare?
Ms. Evans: I think it’s very rare, and I think that it is a great necessary for anybody in any industry to have a mentor. I didn’t per se have an up-close and personal one that I distinctly called mentor, but I took those various moments that I was able to interact with someone who was great, and I got any questions out. I asked them their thoughts on what I should do. I did have mentorship moments, but it’s not like I had someone I could just pick up the phone and call and say, hey, you know what should I do here? I didn’t really have that and a lot of us other actors and entertainers won’t have that.
So I just want to encourage everybody, too. That even though you don’t have that, should you pass someone’s way, take that moment to not be scared of them because they’re so amazing. Take that moment. They’re willing to give. It’s just that those are not the typical questions that people ask. I would say definitely seek out mentorship, but if you don’t have one, like I said, take the moment and just use it to your benefit.
Miss Wilson: And do you have any other advice for aspiring singers and actors as well?
Ms. Evans: I would say hone your craft. If you’re a singer, sing all the time. I don’t care if it’s in the car, in the shower. Make yourself available – I don’t care if it’s for Craig’s List to sing for a funeral. Make yourself available to use your gift because really, I think our gifts were given to us by God for others. It wasn’t for our own edification. You should share your gift as often. Share it for free. You don’t want to know how many times I’ve sang for free or how many times I’ve been in a production, acting, for free. Because the money will come. And I know people say that when they got some. No, trust and believe. Struggling as I am, even sometimes today, I still realize that my gift is not my own and work begets work. So if you find yourself working, then somebody else in that audience might say, hey I’d like to hire you for something else. Work, work, work. Just work your craft.
And I would like to assassinate the word “aspiring.” I can’t stand it. You’re not aspiring to be something. You are. You already are. You sing? I’m a singer. I’m not an aspiring singer. You’re an actor. I’m aspiring – no, I’m an actor. Already claim who you are.
Miss Wilson: What motivates you to keep on going, to keep on pursuing acting and singing?
Ms. Evans: The one thing that motivates me are the people who constantly congratulate me. The people who say “I’m watching this” and the people who say “I need you to succeed and you inspire me.” Those are the people that push me to greatness, because I feel like if I don’t do it, I’m doing them a disservice. If I get nervous or scared, then I can’t fully live out loud for them to see that they can do it, too. So it’s really the push from the audience and those who are following my career.