Robert Townsend Talks 'Diary Of A Single Mom', How The Web Is Changing TV & Raptors v. Actors

Director Robert Townsend is on a roll. His webseries, Diary of a Single Mom is proving to be a runaway internet hit. The drama, now in it’s third season and which stars Monica CalhounLeonDiahann Carroll and Billy Dee Williams has  sparked such a buzz that it will soon be headed to cable TV as a possible new series. We checked in with Townsend to find out what attracted him to the award-winning webseries and how the internet is changing television. And, The Five Heartbeats director weighed in the ongoing, very controversial singer/rapper turned actor debate. —Ronke Idowu Reeves


VIBE: As a male director Tyler Perry faced some heat for directing a woman’s story, For Colored Girls this year. Did you feel similar pressures being at the helm of this woman’s story?

Cheryl L. West is the writer of Diary and she has such as strong point of view, I just listen. Cheryl and I had worked together on a movie I directed for Showtime called Holiday Heart [Alfrie Woodard got nominated for a Golden Globe for the starring role.] My job as a director is kind of easy because if you got really great actors, a well-written script I can just stay out of the way, have fun and let the actors act.  But coming from a single parent household there’s a lot of my mother in the lead character in Diary, Ocean [played by Monica Calhoun] and there are a lot of things that as a kid I grew up around. 


Diary of Single Mom won the Best Indie Soap 2009 Award. So would you describe it as a straight drama series or a soap opera?

I look at Diary as a drama. But I guess when you have stuff with real life drama people say, 'Oh it’s a soap.' But I never looked at it like that. When we won the soap award for best soap series all I knew was that people were responding.


The immediacy of web feedback must be different for you as a film director.

 When I create movies or television shows I would never get feedback unless I would walk down the street and someone would come up to me and say, ‘The Five Heartbeats really touched my heart man!’ Now with the internet you read comments that say, 'I’m sitting here crying or will Ocean win?' And the comments come from such a genuine beautiful place it’s like, 'Wow we’re getting feedback.' The only complaint so far is that  it’s too short.  We’re telling a story in 14 or 16 minutes—the length of each episode [laughs.] I was reading the feedback and folks were saying, ‘It’s too short Mr. Townsend it’s really got to be 30 minutes’ [laughs.]


DSM Cast


Was it difficult landing an all-star cast for a web-series? Because the format is still so experimental?

I just reached out to different people. We have a mentor character whose played by Richard Roundtree, we had an uncle character with diabetes and that’s Billy Dee Williams. Even though the web is experimental on a lot of levels everybody that I asked said, ‘Because it’s you Robert, yes.’ And it made me feel really good. This season we have Diahann Carroll  who plays a no-nonsense therapist who helps to counsel Ocean's son. But who really ends up challenging Ocean (Calhoun).


It’s unfortunate that our veteran actors don’t work as much as older white actors like Betty White.

Richard Roundtree and Billy Dee Williams were talking to me about this the other day. They were telling me how they don’t get meaty roles [as older actors in the industry]— they get throwaway roles. From my childhood Billy Dee Williams, Richard Roundtree, Diahann Carroll they all gave so much— they are my heroes. I’m like, 'Let’s give them something to really do, if we’re going to bring them out the house.' Overall our icons, our legends don’t get honored the way others treat theirs— which is a shame.  And they are not treated the way they should be. So this [show] is probably some the best work they’ve been able to do in years.


What about the talks that DSM will be headed to basic cable soon?

We’re in contract negotiations with TV One right now to do a one-hour special in January. And I feel really good because I really want the world to see this baby. The world is seeing the baby now online, but I think it could be a good fit for TV One because it’s the right demo, it’s got stars, it’s well written— I think we’ve done a great job. I’m proud of this show. The one-hour special to just see how the audience responds to and if there’s interest [enough to be a series.] But they want to move forward.


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Oprah Responds To Viral Video Of Her Eating Unseasoned Chicken

A hilarious old video of Oprah Winfrey making an uncomfortable face as she dives into a piece of unseasoned chicken has been circulating the Internet all week. While these sort of silly videos wouldn't usually garner a response from the billionaire, Oprah surprised everyone when she shared a video explaining the chicken-eating experience and her initial reaction.

To give you some context, the video is a clip from The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2006, in which O invited her guest Anna Ginsberg to make her award-winning chicken dish. After one bite, it became clear that Oprah wasn't too pleased with the chicken's bland taste. She even asked at the time if she could add a little seasoning.

I often think about the time Oprah did a cooking segment with a woman whose chicken recipe won $1 million, and Oprah's jaw dropped when she tasted it and realized the lady didn't even add seasoning

— Spencer Althouse (@SpencerAlthouse) December 9, 2018

Now, more than 10 years later, Oprah is setting the record straight. In her new video posted on Instagram on Thursday (Dec. 13), she noted that she likes to provide a pleasurable experience for her guests but also live in her truth. On that particular day, she was presented with a dilemma. "I was having a moment of trying to decide: Do I want her to have a great time? What is my real moment of truth?" she said. "Because the truth for me was that I'm used to having salt and pepper on my chicken. That's just the truth...That's what I was thinking, 'This chicken needs some salt and pepper.'"

So that's that; Oprah has spoken. She may have played it off at the time, but like many others, she would prefer her chicken with seasoning.


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Over the weekend, a 2006 video of @oprah tasting an *interesting* chicken dish made its rounds online. We asked the O of O, what REALLY went through her mind as the cameras were on her—and she answered. Swipe left if you haven’t seen the hysterical video! #tbt

A post shared by O, The Oprah Magazine (@oprahmagazine) on Dec 13, 2018 at 7:13am PST

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'Sesame Street' Praised For The Inclusion Of Homeless Character

Sesame Street continues its crusade to include statement-making characters on their block. This time around, families will be introduced to Lily, the show’s first homeless character.

According to USA Today, Lily- an adorable hot pink, red haired puppet- was first introduced to the show in 2011, but in new online clips, Lily opens up about being homeless and staying with friends.

"Now we don't have our own place to live, and sometimes I wonder if we'll ever have our own home," she says to Elmo in one clip. In her initial appearances on the show, Lily discusses her family’s food insecurities, meaning they didn’t have much to eat.

“We know children experiencing homelessness are often caught up in a devastating cycle of trauma – the lack of affordable housing, poverty, domestic violence, or other trauma that caused them to lose their home, the trauma of actually losing their home, and the daily trauma of the uncertainty and insecurity of being homeless,” said Sherrie Westin, President of Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop.

“We want to help disrupt that cycle by comforting children, empowering them, and giving them hope for the future," she continues. "We want them to know that they are not alone and home is more than a house or an apartment – home is wherever the love lives.”

In recent years, Sesame Street has introduced a slew of ground-breaking new characters, including Julia, a puppet with autism, and Alex, a character whose father is incarcerated.

READ MORE: 'Sesame Street' Introduces A Character Who Has A Father In Jail

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Cardi B To Join James Corden On A Forthcoming "Carpool Karaoke" Segment

Your rapper’s favorite rapper Cardi B is slated to make her debut on “Car Pool Karaoke” with James Corden, Billboard reports. The Late Late Show host teased the upcoming episode, which airs Monday (Dec.17) via Instagram along with a small schedule of the show’s upcoming guests.


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Here’s what the next two weeks look like on the @latelateshow! Seeing the year out with a bang x x x

A post shared by James Corden (@j_corden) on Dec 10, 2018 at 5:17pm PST

In addition to the “Money” rapper, Amber Heard and Armie Hammer will also appear on the same episode. Corden is closing out the last leg of 2018 strong by having a slew of other prominent stars on the show on the last week before the program goes on break for the holidays. The likes of Gwen Stefani, RuPaul, Jennifer Lopez, Emily Blunt, Leah Remini, Lin-Manuel Miranda, among others will be featured on the show after Bardi’s Monday episode.

To say the least, we're sure the British talk show host and the newly minted Grammy-nominated rapper are going to have the time of their lives.

The 26-year-old's now estranged husband Offset, along with the other members of Migos were guests on the beloved show. Joining Corden as he drove through the streets of Los Angeles, the trio performed a slew of hits including "Walk It Talk It"  while also giving a nod of praise to past hits, including Whitney Houston's "Wanna Dance With Somebody."

With all the fun Migos had with Corden, we can only imagine what shenanigans James and Belcalis are going to get into.

READ MORE: Cardi B Buys Her Mother's House

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