Interview with Lamman Rucker

Lamman Rucker - 1

This past weekend, actor Lamman Rucker, star of the new romantic comedy “Black Coffee”, was in his hometown of Washington, DC helping promote the new release.  I had the immense pleasure of spending a few hours with Mr. Rucker after a showing of the fim.  I was able to see Mr. Rucker interact with fans, from joking around to giving autographs to posing for pictures.  He even took the time to speak with a young movie theater employee.  But he did more than speak.  Lamman took the time to share words of wisdom with and mentor this young man, who was only 19 years old.   While most stars would probably just speak to a few fans, pose for a couple of pictures, and keep it moving, Lamman took the time to spend a few moments with every.single.person. that was in line that came to see the movie.  He even spoke to a group of young people from JobCorps that saw him from across the theater.  And yes, they promised to come back the next day to see “Black Coffee”.

In the film, Rucker plays Hillman “Hill” Grant, a successful, domineering man who is intent on winning back the affections of his ex-wife.  When asked what attracted him to this project, the star stated, “It was the positive message that spoke to me.  And it was kind of fun not to play the “Nice Guy”.  It was an opportunity to create beautiful things with beautiful black people and beautiful minds with great spirits.”  Lamman was excited to work with One Village Entertainment again, having done four films with the company in the past, and Tri-Destined Studios for the first time; he has since completed another film with the company.  “I believe this (‘Black Coffee’) had the potential to be a great thing, and I’m happy with the work that everyone did.  And it seems as if the audience is pleased with the film as well.”  And he could not be more accurate.   The level of admiration and praise he received after the film was not lost on me.  Everyone that spoke to Rucker after the film had positive things to say, even some young ladies that talked to me before and after the movie.  They enjoyed the film immensely and were sort of shy about approaching Mr. Rucker.  I assured them they should just go and talk to him and that he would not turn them away, which he did not.

Seeing the “hometown love” at the theaters was not lost on me.  Nor was it lost on Lamman.  “It’s encouraging, it’s affirming.  It’s interesting what people recall and what people bring up” is what Lamman stated when asked how does it feel when coming back home.  When people recall stories, it’s interesting to see what people say about who he is and what he has done.  “So you’re not surprised to see me do what I’m doing or the way or the level that I’m doing it.  As long as people aren’t saying I’m disappointed in you and what you’re doing now…thank God that I’m not hearing that.  There are many sincere and meaningful things that people are saying.  That’s really encouraging.  It makes me very happy to hear that.”

During the course of our conversation, Lamman shared stories of how he checked a well-known rap artist on his attire- saggin pants in a corporate office-and how he approached some young men that were being blatantly loud and disrespectful to one another in a grocery store.  Lamman took a few moments to approach these young men and let them know they did not need to behave or dress in that manner.  When asked why he took that time when most people would walk away, he stated, “Because I mean it.  Because I’m sincere. And because I know it (speaking with them) works.  I use them as teachable moments that most people would shy away from.”  Lamman continued, “There are always times when we know what we should do, but instead we come up with all of these excuses why we shouldn’t, and then we don’t do it.”  Lamman has “the courage to open my mouth and my ears and my mind and my heart to take the time out to do what is right and to take advantage of the moment.  But you can’t be self-serving.  You have to be genuine.  As long as you know what you’re doing is from a pure place, then nothing but good can come from it.”

When asked where we can find him in 2014, Lamman stated he has a few movies in the can, including another romantic comedy “First Impressions”, “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” and “The Man in 3B”, based on Carl Webber’s novel, and we can find him in a television series in the fall. “I don’t know the title or who’s in it or what channel.  I haven’t gotten the job yet, but I know it’s coming!” Lamman stated with a hearty laugh.  I know I believe in speaking things into existence, and it seems as if Lamman does, too.  He is also re-launching his all natural body care line, Forplai by Lamman Rucker.  He has also re-structured his leadership for his non-profit, The Black Gents, which is working on solidifying its board during the first quarter of 2014.  “We want to do the best we can to be models of manhood, brotherhood, and fatherhood.  We want to do the best we can to educate and entertain through the arts.”   In order to make a significant impact, Lamman believes in serving as leaders for our families and communities.

As we’re wrapping up, a couple walks up to us to attend the midnight showing.  Lamman rises, greets the couple, thanks them for coming, and provides them with a signed movie poster.  The gentleman is surprised to see Lamman and thinks it’s an added bonus to see him outside of the theater.  We joke and laugh for a few minutes, and Lamman tells them he hopes they enjoy the movie.

It is so refreshing to see someone that is so well-rounded and has his hands in a lot of things to not only better himself, but, more importantly, to better our communities and those generations coming up after him.  When it comes to the things that he has planned for 2014, Lamman says, “I’m nervous as heck, but I’m excited about the possibilities.”  So are we, Lamman.

Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Black Coffee

Last night, I had the awesome opportunity to attend an open mic sponsored by the movie “Black Coffee”, which begins its limited run in AMC theatres in Washington, DC, Baltimore, Atlanta, and Chicago.  The event was hosted by Panama Jackson from “Very Smart Brothas” and featured poets, singers, and musicians.

My girls and I went out and enjoyed ourselves.  Attendees received free cocktails and awesome gift bags with “Black Coffee” swag.  But the highlight of the evening for me was seeing (and speaking to) Lamman Rucker, who is one of the stars of the movie.  (Yes, he is tall and fine and personable! :)) Plus, he will be at AMC Hoffman tonight to greet moviegoers!

And if you don’t know what the film is about, let me tell you.  Robert, played by Darrin Henson, is fired from his dad’s company AND his girlfriend breaks up with him, all in the same day.  But, he meets the gorgeous Morgan, played by Gabrielle Dennis, and it seems as if things are going great for them.  But when you insert Robert’s ex-girlfriend and Morgan’s ex-husband who wants to reconcile, problems are sure to arise.

As someone who supports Black Cinema, I implore all of you to go see this movie.  Unfortunately, it’s only in theaters for a limited run, so make sure you go see it this weekend!  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

Southern Girl Movie Review: “The Best Man Holiday”

The first time I saw this movie I cried like a baby for about 5 minutes. (Yes, I saw it twice, and yes, the New Potential took me to see it the 2nd time. :)) As you know I had extremely high hopes for this film and was super excited to see it.  Now, I gave you all an extra week to see it.  So if you haven’t seen it, you might want to skip this post, because there are going to be spoilers galore.  I’m just forewarning you, so don’t be mad at me!  Now, I will say I was much more engrossed in the film when I saw it the first time, maybe because I knew what was going to happen the second time around.  So I’ll give you my perspective from my fresh eyes on opening night.

I definitely saw the growth of each character and even in the storyteller.  Malcom D. Lee did an amazing job writing this sequel.  Harper means well, but you truly see him for what he is-sneaky.  And it’s not that he means to be.  But because he’s not forthright with his actions and his intent, it comes off all wrong.  You almost feel bad for him.  But when you think about him keeping secrets (not telling Robin that he was fired from NYU, not asking Lance if he could write his biography), you realize that he kinda dug his own hole.  I’m happy to say Robin did not get on my nerves in this movie like she did in the original.  I love Sanaa Lathan, almost as much as I love Kerry Washington, but Robin was ANNOYING in “The Best Man”.  Anywho, I honestly don’t think her character had a lot of airtime, but the time she was in the film interacting with Harper, she made valid points.  And she made me laugh.

I will say that Lance’s anger towards Harper was valid-he slept with his girl and kept it a secret-but he wrote about it in his book.  But Lance forgot someone else that should have felt a little bit of his wrath-Mia.  IMHO, I think Lance didn’t address Mia’s guilty part of the whole thing because of his views on gender roles.  If you remember from the first movie, he didn’t want his wife to work; he just wanted her to stay home and have his babies (which Mia did-four of them, but we’ll talk about the babies later.)  My thinking is that if a man believes a woman should be submissive, it probably means that he doesn’t think she has a mind of her own and can think for herself.  Or maybe he just didn’t want to address that his good girl wasn’t so good.  My girl Mia had to be the strongest person in this whole movie.  I knew at the second dinner that she was sick.  I whispered to my homegirl, “She looks really skinny”.  Monica Calhoun did a bang up job in this film, and this was probably her best role to date…seriously.

Now, Jordan is going to always be Jordan.  She’s strong, she’s tenacious, she’s a go-getter, she’s every woman’s woman.  I enjoyed seeing her be vulnerable with Brian McDaniels, or whatever his name was.  Even though Eddie Cibrian may be a dog in real life, he is one fine man to look at.  I’m glad she finally found love.  But it’s sad that it took her best friend getting sick for her to realize that life isn’t all about work.

Murch was SO wrong for showing Quentin the video of Candy. He was also wrong for sharing it with the guys while they were playing pool (something I totally missed the first time).  He definitely should have addressed it with Candy BEFORE they went to Lance and Mia’s home.  And especially before crazy Shelby was able to find the tape.  Now I do not condone violence, but Shelby kinda deserved to get swung on.  But I am mad that the fighting and name calling and cursing took place in front of the babies.  That was a little outrageous and over the top.  And I SO felt bad for Shelby’s daughter Kennedy.  Shelby’s old mean self…Speaking of, I’m glad they explained why Shelby was there, because I was giving her the side eye.

Anywho, last certainly not least, my boy Quentin.  He always speaks the truth, no matter how crazy his message comes out.  But why do he and Shelby always have to end up in bed together??? It’s slightly nauseating.

Side-eye worthy moments: When Lance threw up the hook and said, “Frienship is Essential to the Soul”.  If you’re not a member of a BGLO (black Greek lettered organization), you may not understand. While names were not mentioned, it was pretty clear that Lance is a member of Omega Psi Phi and Mia (and by default Shelby) was a member of Delta Sigma Theta (Shout out to our centennial year!!!).  Morris Chestnut is a not an Omega; he’s a member a different fraternity.  And I’ll leave that there.  Also, the Sullivan children. LJ and Hope (the two oldest) look like they could actually be Lance and Mia’s children.  But the youngest two (August and Faith) look like the casting director said, “I’m finished.  Put whomever you want in those roles” because those children look NOTHING like their fictional parents.  And I know it’s a movie, but sheesh.

The moments I cried: When Harper caught Mia coughing.  When Jordan cried.  When Mia sang with the girls.  When Marsha Ambrosius and Anthony Hamilton sang “As”.  When Lance broke down at the gravesite.

So, yes, this was mighty lengthy, but I had a lot to say about this film.  I give this a 9.5 out of 10.  And as I said in a previous post, there does not need to be a Part 3.

What did you all think?  Love it?  Hate it?  Loved the story?  Did you cry, too?  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!

No, “Love Jones” Does NOT Need A Sequel

“The Best Man Holiday” far exceeded expectations coming in No. 2 during its opening weekend earning just over $30 million.  This post will NOT be a review of the movie, as I told my Facebook friends that I would give them one week (until November 23) to see the movie before I posted about it.  So if you haven’t seen it, you can keep reading as there are no spoilers. 🙂

TBMH was an excellent movie.  Probably exceptional.   I was happy to see the growth and depth of each character.  And I can’t remember ANY movie causing me to feel every emotion imaginable.  And judging from others’ comments, I don’t think I am the only person that feels that way.  Black moviegoers have been trying to tell Hollywood for YEARS that we would like to see us in much more diverse roles.  We’re more than servants or sidekicks or sex kittens.  We are people who have our own stories of triumph and of fears to share…without being in someone else’s shadow.  And if “The Best Man Holiday” didn’t teach us anything else, it taught us that Black people have more than one story to tell.

Some people may think that with the success of a sequel 14 years in the making that most of our beloved movies from the late 1990s/early 2000s deserve a sequel so that we can see what happened to Darius and Nina from “Love Jones”, Sidney and Andre from “Brown Sugar” or Quincy and Monica from “Love and Basketball”.  Well, let me tell you a secret-we don’t.  We don’t even need a Part 3 to “The Best Man”.  Although “Bad Boys 2” came out almost 10 years after the original and did fairly well in the box office, it really wasn’t necessary.  And even though I thorougly enjoyed “Think Like A Man”, “Think Like a Man Too” is overkill.

For the next 3-5 years, we do not need to see an influx of sequels of movies with Blacks as the main characters for moviegoers to see in the theatres.  We need new and different stories to be told.  For example, former NFL player and current director/writer/producer Matthew Cherry is currently working on his next film “Game Time Decision”, which focuses on the decisions and possible consequences, good and bad, that need to be made when players enter into the NFL.

So, let’s not only challenge ourselves; let’s challenge Hollywood to make new movies that tell our story.  We don’t live our lives in circles, so why should we see our movies that way?  We are constantly changing and evolving and growing.  And it’s up to us to dare Hollywood to the do the same.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

14 Years in the Making

It’s December of 1999.  A 17 year old high school senior goes to the movies to see “The Best Man”.  She LOVES the movie.  She thinks it’s great.  She laughed. She was shocked!  And she thinks the acting was great.  She has her favorite characters and wonders if she will grow to be a writer like Harper, sharp tongued and no-nonsense like Jordan, or if she’ll stay as sweet and innocent as Mia (appears to be).  As she has done with each event she has attended since August, she saves the ticket stub to commemorate one more thing she has done during her senior year and adds it to her Senior Book.  As she gets older, she will eventually purchase the VHS of “The Best Man”, and during her senior year of college, she and her BFF/roommate watch this movie NO LESS than once a week…and quote each line of said movie.  As more time passes, she does away with the VHS and upgrades to owning a DVD.  And during her BFF’s wedding weekend, “The Best Man” is the movie of choice during mani/pedi time; and yes, they are still quoting lines 5 years later.

Now, it’s the fall of 2011.  It is announced that a sequal to “The Best Man” is being made-and the ENTIRE original cast has signed on.  This 17 year old girl is now a grown woman.  And she is SUPER excited to hear this news.  Now she will get to see if Lance and Mia stayed married, if Harper and Robin get married, and if Jordan ever finds someone she wants to marry.  What becomes of Murch and Candy?  And do Quentin and Shelby become a couple???  A year and a half passes, and a release date is announced for “The Best Man Holiday”.  As the date quickly approaches, the cast is seen everywhere, they are doing radio interviews, and the commercials for the movie put a smile on her face each time she hears Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and sees the four male stars entertaining their women by pretending to be New Edition.  (A LOT of resources have been put into this movie; so much so that she hopes that people will still spend their money to go see it.)  She has already decided she is going to see this movie opening weekend, even if she has to go by herself.  (She believes in supporting quality black cinema.)  Not to mention the New Potential stated that since he doesn’t share her same enthusiasm for the film, he probably shouldn’t go with her to see it.  -_-  The great thing is that she doesn’t have to go solo, because she and a girlfriend, who is just as hype as she is about seeing this movie, decided to go together and have purchased advance tickets. (She hasn’t known this friend long, but the more she finds out about her she thinks they may just be kindred spirits.)  One thing that does not escape her about this movie is that out of all of the people that have been to an advanced screening, NO ONE has said a negative thing about this film.  From men to women to people who didn’t care for the first one, all bloggers and Facebook sharers have said that there is something for everyone in this movie.  This little tidbit is not lost on her, even though she would probably love it no matter what anyone says.  And before she’s seen the movie, she’s already decided it’s going to be added to her DVD collection to join its predecessor.

Guy Week – Don’t Fall For Harley

Last weekend, I saw Tyler Perry’s new movie “Temptation” with a few of my cousins.  While the movie wasn’t the greatest thing I’ve seen, it definitely had some lessons to be learned.  I’ll try not to tell the whole movie (actually if you have a desire to see the movie, you may want to skip this), but as you can guess, a happily married woman has an affair.  Drama and mayhem ensue. People get hurt.  The End.  Harley, The Other Man, was an attractive, confident (and cocky), smooth talking, chocolate-y scrumptious, wealthy man.  He was also conniving, manipulative, ruthless, and narcissistic.  Harley was able to get into Judith’s head.  He preyed on her insecurities.  He saw an opening and forced himself in.  And, most importantly, he would not take no for an answer.  No matter how many times Judith said “No” and resisted temptation, Harley would continue to pop up and work on the seduction.  Even after they had sex (the first time) and Judith stated she didn’t want to see Harley again, he continued to keep popping up.  Judith finally fell victim to Harley, for good.  She became a completely different person. She changed her style of dress. She disrespected her mother.  She left her husband.  She even became a drug addict.

Men who are like Harley mean women no good.  Their goal is to conquer.  They’ll get you at first by being a smooth talker, telling you what you want to hear, and giving you things.  They’ll promise you passion beyond your wildest dreams.  But at the end of the day, they can become mean and controlling.  Watching this movie made me think of “Scandal”. (I know, I know-don’t judge me.)  During their official break-up, Liv told Edison that she wanted a love that was filled with passion and pain.  Edison’s response was that love should be full of passion but it should not hurt.  And he couldn’t be more right.  Yes, Judith’s husband, Brice, took her for granted, and they were getting along to get along, but at the end of the day, Brice loved her.  Ladies, don’t get blinded by the shiny lights.  The grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

The greatest thing you can do for yourself and your relationship is to tell your mate if something isn’t working.  If he chooses to ignore it, that’s when you leave.  You don’t make a bad situation worse by lying to your mate to go do things with someone else you know you shouldn’t be doing.  And not only that, when someone shows you his crazy, believe him.  Harley showed Judith multiple signs of his crazy, but she chose to ignore it.  Don’t get so caught up in the promises that one is making that you also throw away bad.  Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city.

A Southerner’s Thoughts on “Django Unchained”

A few weeks ago, I went on Facebook and asked which of my cousins will go see “Django Unchained” with me the day after Christmas.  I’m happy to say 9 of us trekked to the theater.  As I was getting some refreshments, the guy behind the counter, he could not be older than 16, asked which movie I was going to see.  When I told him, his response was, “Oh, you’ll like it.  It was really funny!”  I, being a 30 year old Black woman that grew up in the South and knowing the premise of the movie, did not think that “funny” was the most accurate word to describe this film.

While watching Django, I had to turn my head a few times.  If you know Tarantino, you know his movies are full of cursing, blood, and violence.  I was prepared for the MFer’s.  I was prepared for the “nigger”s.  I was even prepared for the violence.  However, when Calvin Candie, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, handed a hammer to his mandingo fighter and told him to finish his opponent, I turned my head.  The silence heard after that weapon was used was deafening in my ears. You realized just how hard these men were fighting to stay alive.

Now, to give credit to the young White boy behind the counter, there were some funny moments.  Take for instance the portrayal of some racist Whites, who were supposed to be pre-KKK members.  And the very end, when Django was able to enact revenge on those that kept his wife.  But referring to the entire movie as funny is grossly incorrect.  Honestly, I’m not sure how I would categorize Django.  I didn’t like it.  I didn’t not like it.  My emotions are up in the air.  When my mom asked me what I thought, I told her I didn’t know; I would have to go see it again.  My main take-away from the film was the love story.  This man did not let ANYTHING stop him from rescuing his wife.  How often do we see a man go through hell and highwater to get to his woman, especially on screen?  Not very often.

I love Spike Lee movies, from “School Daze” to “Bamboozled”.  But I need him to stop trying to keep his name in people’s mouths by telling folks to boycott this film.  He needs to find something constructive to do.

In the end, my cousins liked the movie.  I’m on the fence, which is highly ironic since I’m the main reason we all went together.  I’m sure I’ll see it again.  And I probably should not have watched “Queen” right before I went to see it… Until next time, I’m just a Southern girl…in the city!