'Undercovers' Boris Kodjoe Talks New Show, Keeping His German Accent Under Wraps

Undercovers is not just your average network TV spy drama it’s a bold splash of color (pun intended) that features two black actors in the lead roles and is a fun, quick witted romp of a series that crosses all genre lines. The premise: two married small business catering owners get back into their ex-spy game jobs. VIBE caught up with one of the Undercovers' stars Boris Kodjoe who plays Steven Bloom, to talk about the show's groundbreaking casting, what it's like shooting the series and how he keeps his German accent all American for each episode.—Ronke Idowu Reeves

VIBE: It’s a huge deal that a mainstream network drama has two black lead characters. It’s never happened before. Do you want to talk a bit about the trailblazing casting of Undercovers?

I think its important to recognize that it’s not the norm [the casting] but that it should be the norm because that’s what the world looks like. It’s diverse and we come in all types shapes, sizes and shades. Traditionally in TV it hasn’t been the case. So, it’s important to be trailblazers but on the other hand l hope we inspire people to regard it as normal so more people don’t consider it taking a chance but just being creative. [Show creators and executive producers] Josh Reims and J.J. [Abrams] have led the way and hopefully the world will open up to it.

Your costar Gugu Mbatha-Raw is British and South African and you’re German yet you’re playing American spies. Do you still have to work at getting rid of your accent?

When I first got here I couldn’t really speak English well at all. My English was so bad somebody asked me, 'What’s up?' And I looked up. But I met some great dialect and voice coaches and they taught me  how to breathe. When you speak a foreign language you sound different because your breathing is up here [puts hands on upper chest]  and when you speak English you speak from down here [puts hand along stomach] so I had to learn how to drop my breathing. It was hard. But three hours a day I would study and do exercises. And if you see my earlier work you can still hear my German accent a little. And when I do long hours on the set and get really tired you can hear it. It’s funny having a Brit and a German playing American spies because when we’re still filming at 12am it all comes out.

What’s it like as an actor to film a drama that has so many genres wrapped into one show? And what’s it like actually filming the show? It looks exciting.

It’s absolutely ridiculous and my head explodes when I think about it because it’s an absolute dream come true. When you talk about serialized TV you’re usually playing one specific beat [of one genre] over and over again. It’s a challenge [doing Undercovers] as well because we have the opportunity to go from action to drama to comedy. There are so many genres mixed in one, that as an actor it’s truly a once in a lifetime situation. 

We get to go on these rides, trips all around the world it’s amazing— to these exotic locales. It’s tough but at the same time it’s such a fantastic opportunity and so much fun, you forget about how tough it is. One minute you’re shooting in a strip club using a three camera set up and the next day you’re fighting two secret agents. I really can’t believe this is happening—it's amazing.

RELATED: 'Undercovers' Co-Creator J.J. Abrams Talks New Spy Series Starring Boris Kodjoe

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Stream: Hulu's 'FYRE Fraud' Doc Examines The Festival That Scammed Thousands

In 2017, rumors of an exclusive festival taking place in the Bahamas took over social media. Organized by Billy McFarland and promoted by Ja Rule, the FYRE Festival was the new, cool kid on the festival block and quickly put other more seasoned festivals to shame.

But all that glitters isn't gold.

FYRE FRAUD, the new documentary streaming on Hulu, takes an intimate look at the scam that left thousands stranded on the island. Directed by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason, the dark-comedy interviews whistleblowers, victims, and the convicted con-man himself, McFarland.

In a press release, Fraust and Nason said the goal isn't to make light of those who were scammed.

"Our aim was to set the stage for a strange journey into the moral abyss of our digital age, going beyond the meme to show an ecosystem of enablers, driven by profit and willing to look the other way, for their own gain.

"We draw on countless cultural references, on true crime tension, and on humor - but we did not intend to create a toothless comedy about the Fyre Festival. We hope this film can pierce our collective apathy and disrupt our own millennial peers, if only for an instant - to look at these stories for what they truly are, and to halt this algorithm before it devours us whole."

FYRE FRAUD is now streaming on Hulu.



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Al Bello

Dave Chappelle Isn't Sure His R. Kelly 'Chappelle Show' Skits Were Insensitive

The Surviving R. Kelly series may be over, but the fallout from it has seemingly just begun.

Director dream hampton took to Twitter during the airing of the Lifetime documentary and spoke honestly about the several celebrity men she contacted in hopes they'd speak on camera about R. Kelly and the years of sexual allegations that have shadowed him. Among them was Dave Chappelle.

The beloved comic famously made a music video entitled "Piss On You" mocking the real-life video of R. Kelly urinating on an underage girl. During the Chappelle Show heyday, he used R.Kelly's legal woes as material for years.

TMZ caught with Chappelle in West Hollywood and asked him if he regretted not being featured in hampton's series and instead he dodged the question.

"Jesus Christ, I just had dinner," Chappelle said in between taking a drag of his cigarette. "I just ate. Strop bringing that motherf**ker up."

When pressed about whether or not he thinks his old skits were insensitive, the 45-year-old said "I don't know. I'd have to watch it again."

D.L. Hughley joined Chappelle for dinner and commented on R.Kelly and the forthcoming Michael Jackson documentary, Leaving Neverland, which outlines sexual assault allegations against the late singer.

"If you can be mad at R. Kelly, you should be mad at Michael Jackson," Hughley said.


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Andre 3000 Stars In New Space Thriller 'High Life'

A new space thriller is coming to theaters this year. Andre 3000 will star in the new film alongside Twilight's Robert Pattinson in High Life, and the first trailer looks pretty intense.

The feature focuses on a group of criminals who are coerced into a mission to travel towards a black hole to find an alternate energy source. They are also forced to undergo sexual experiments while in outer space. The 2-minute preview features Pattinson and Andre 3000 as they struggle to survive on the spaceship.

High Life originally premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival in Sept. 2018. It received positive reviews from numerous film critics.

"High Life is as visually arresting as it is challenging, confounding, and ultimately rewarding - which is to say it's everything film fans expect from director Claire Denis," Rotten Tomatoes said of the film.

The film is written and directed by Claire Denis. High Life will hit theaters on Apr. 12. Watch the new trailer in the video above.

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