NEllisphoto NEllisphoto

'Let's Stay Together' Star Nadine Ellis On New Sitcom: 'Black is back in the comedy world'

It's official: the black adult sitcom is back. Tuesday January 11th The Game returns to the airwaves on its new television home at BET, and immediately following the cult hit is the premiere of the new series, Let’s Stay Together which airs at 11pm/10pm central.

Executive produced by Queen Latifah, the show takes a fun and comedic look at two couples and one single woman living in Atlanta trying to balance their love and life admist their professional pursuits. VIBE spoke to Let’s Stay Together star and former founding Pussycat Doll member Nadine Ellis about her character and what viewers can expect from the new series.—Ronke Idowu Reeves

________________________________________________________________


VIBE: Critics are describing Let’s Stay Together as a black  Mad About You, is that about right?

Nadine Ellis: I think it is like a black Mad About You in the sense that it is relationship based, so that's an accurate description. There is also a feeling when watching that show in relation to ours that it makes you, the viewer, feel like you are like a friend being invited over for a glass of wine, and you just happened to see everything that happens in these characters' days.

 

Tell us about the character you play and the premise of the series.

My character Stacy is a pediatrician; she’s driven, just opened up her practice and just bought her first home. She decides to get a few rooms remodeled and she meets this contractor and the character Charles Whitmore [played by Bert Belasco] walks in, who completely sweeps her off her feet. He’s the opposite of every man she’s ever dated. He has the spirit of a five year old but the body and fabulousness of a man and she’s completely bowled over. And so the show picks up six months into our engagement.  And you get to see everything they deal with in being a new couple. All the things you find out when you decide you want to spend the rest of your life with someone; all the problems, all the amazing things, and we learn about their families. Basically it's the story two couples and one crazy single girl, five young adults in Atlanta, living their lives trying to figure out where they go next in life.

 

You’re a founding member of the Pussycat Dolls, but yet your character Stacy can’t dance on Let's Stay Together, that’s kinda funny.

Yes, [laughs] it's very funny that my character can’t dance. There's one episode where my character’s sister teaches me how to lap dance, to help me keep my man. And it’s hilarious because once they said, 'action'  I became this awkward-completely-unable-to-control-my-body woman. And then they would say, 'cut' and then the girls would do a move and turn to me and ask, ‘Nadine, is this right?’ It was really hilarious—the dichotomy of what was happening, because dancing is one of my strengths. That was a challenge for me. My whole life I’ve been controlling my body and then it became, 'How do I lose control?'

 

When were you apart of the Pussycat Dolls and why did you leave?

I was a member of the PCD from 1999 to 2003, way before it became the pop group, singing group and the record label came into it. I did it back when it was a stage show at the Viper Room. They had been going for about three years before I came into it and then I was in it for five years.  They named me and the women I performed with the the six originals, and we went on and performed. But it was a constantly changing cast of women. The show probably had about 15 women in it all together.  Once I heard the record producers were coming into it—I’m not much of a singer— I thought let me bail out of this before I get the boot.

 

You have a very youthful look, but with your career experience I'd say that would make you around 30 years old or so agewise?

My character Stacy is in her 30s.

 

Oh no, I’m talking about you, Nadine, in real life.

 As I said, my character Stacy is in her 30s [laughs.]

 

Okay [laughs] point taken, we’ll say that both you and the character Stacy are both 30-something.

Yes, Stacy is 30s something, but she snags Charles, a 20 something on the show [laughs.]

 

Queen Latifah is an executive producer of Let's Stay Together, was she more hands on with the production or hands off?

She was mostly offset but the feeling was good. We were constantly being told they [Flavor Unit Entertainment] were excited about the series and it was very palpable on set. We were told we this show was going to be given a go, and it was going to be the next big thing.

 

With The Game's return, Let’s Stay Together and other new black scripted series that will be premiering soon on TV One and VH1 it seems black sitcoms are enjoying a resurgence we haven’t seen since the late nineties and early 2000s.

I am excited as a TV watcher myself at the return of black television and for all the viewers who love black comedy as a whole.  Over the last few years once we lost Girlfriends and then The Game, which is now our lead-in show, what was left on the air was the black family comedy.  So we really lost the adult world and perspective and we didn’t get to see romance. We didn’t get to see the 'parents' of the child and all the things that go along with that. It's is a nice return to situation comedy for the black TV world. Black is back on the radar in the comedy world.


From the Web

More on Vibe

Rich Polk | John Sciulli

Issa Rae And LaKeith Stanfield To Star In Will Packer's 'The Photograph'

The great talents of Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield are hitting the big screen soon in Will Packer’s latest film, The Photograph. The two actors have scored roles in the forthcoming movie, Deadline reports.

Stella Meghie will be directing the film, which is based on the parallels of love stories that intersect between the past and present. Both Rae and Stanfield have made their mark on and off the big screen. When Rae isn’t on her brilliant show, Insecure, she’s hustling in Hollywood by getting roles in movies like The Hate U Give and Little. Stanfield is known for his role on FX’s Atlanta, and his awesome contribution to Sorry To Bother To You.

It will be interesting to see Rae and Stanfield on screen together, especially considering both of their strong personalities and viewpoints on the world. During an interview with GQ, Stanfield expressed how he felt about the social-political conundrums of the racist events that have taken place since President Trump's election, like the race riots in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"I’m interested chiefly in bringing justice to those who deserve it," he said. "Secondarily, I’d love to begin a campaign photographing all of the criminals. And villains of the world. And bringing them to justice."

"Sometimes the things that are the worst aspects of humanity are not in fact dark," he explained about his sentiments on the matter. "They are light. This represents a situation in the time that we are experiencing...a light time. A time full of light."

There is no release date yet for The Photograph.

Continue Reading
Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Terry Crews Believes 'White Chicks 2' Will "Happen One Day"

Terry Crews is eager to breathe life back into his controversial White Chicks character Latrell Spencer. During an interview with Us Weekly, the famed actor expressed his elation behind a possible sequel to the aforementioned film.

"I would love one! I'm staying in shape for White Chicks 2! I will never get out of shape—you know that, right?" Crews said. "I will be 75 and say, 'Here we go, I'm ready to go!' I will never, ever get out of shape because that movie's going to happen one day."

In 2004, Marlon and Shawn Wayans starred as two rich white women as they went undercover to apprehend a suspect in a kidnapping scheme. The film was also written by their older brother Keenen Ivory Wayans, and starred John Heard, Rochelle Aytes, Faune A. Chambers, and Drew Sidora. During the course of its debut, the reel raked in over $113 million a the box office.

In a 2018 interview with The Chicago Tribune, Marlon Wayans discussed the impact of his film. "White Chicks, to me, is one of the most underrated comedies ever. That's one where I have to say '(Forget) critics,'" he said. "You have to have no sense of humor to not like that movie — two black guys dressed up as white women. Anybody who hates White Chicks, something is wrong with them. They had a bad childhood."

Continue Reading
Erin Simkin/SHOWTIME

'Black Monday' Explores Mo's Backstory With Narration Of '60s Soul Music: Episode 8 Recap

For seven episodes, we got glimpses into the past that molded Mo into the savage trader he is. Episode “7042” finally takes us closer to his origin, and apparently, that leads us to Los Angeles in 1968. The Jheri curl is now a blown-out afro, and his ruthless mercantilism on Wall Street is replaced by altruism for underserved communities, as a member of the Black Panther Party. The glimpses into his past — the Church’s Chicken on his birthday, his visit with Jammer — all begin to congeal into one vision of a misguided man.

The domineering Xosha Roquemore plays the role of Candance, the woman who Jammer intimated broke Mo’s heart. Roquemore’s last recurring role was as comedian Dawn Lima on Showtime’s I’m Dying Up Here, a short-lived series about the seedy side of stand-up comedy in the early 1970s. Her as Candace is another stellar casting choice. Roquemore was able to speak honey-coated bullets that can pierce any man’s ego in a way that’s both comforting and impactful as a Black woman comic in the 1970s. It’s just as mesmerizing to watch on Black Monday as a Black Panther member in the 1960s.

This arc, while entertaining, seemed to continue an awkward trend in Black Monday: the Black woman bears the weight of the man’s faults. Candace is portrayed as the person who took Mo from thinking of others and drug-free to a staunch individualist who probably has cocaine residue in his DNA. Similarly, it’s Dawn who is the cause of Mo’s Jammer Group being partly owned by the Lehman Brothers in the episode “243,” and the one who feels the obligation to blow up her marriage and future love life to save a risky Georgina Play that Mo involved her in without her say. But, then again, Regina Hall and Roquemore deliver two of the most emotionally jarring performances of the episode and demonstrate two separate, but equally as profound, ways of Black women releasing themselves from the control of men.

Taking Black Monday to the 1960s accomplishes a number of worthwhile feats otherwise unlikely in the 1980s Wall Street timeline. For one, the first 90 seconds of this episode features a wider variety of Black faces than the last seven episodes had, combined. But, more than anything, the new timeline allows for the soul music of the ‘60s to narrate the story.

Music Narrator

Music has always played a noticeable part in the show, but more so as a reinforcement of the time period. In this episode, the sounds of the time guide the audience and take them deeper into the character than what they see on the screen.

In the episode’s opening, soul singer Harry Krapsho lets us know “I don’t care about money too much” and “I don’t have a dollar to my name, and if you don’t mind I’d like to keep it the same” on his song “Don’t Worry.” Those sentiments play as a Black man, whom we don’t realize is Mo, exits a bus in Los Angeles, California. Before we find out Mo wasn’t money-hungry in his past — and formerly known as Roland — the sweet sounds of Harry Krapsho let us know.

Candace deceptively persuades Mo to abandon his principles by smoking weed and going against the Black Panther Party’s wishes, as Sandy Szigeti’s “Make Believe World” scores the scene. After, the plot twist minutes later, the song is a shrewd act of foreshadowing by the showrunners. But, It’s the late, great Nina Simone’s rendition of the 1967 song “I Shall Be Released,” written by Bob Dylan, that expands the Black Monday world.

 

Near the end of the episode, Candace’s true identity is revealed while she’s looking into the eyes of the men and women who seem to have put her in such a position. When Nina’s voice wails out “I remember every face of every man who put me here,” Candace’s motives become more complex. Black Monday lets the music leave you with the thought that Candace may have been compromised by the FBI, and in order to avoid jail time, she would have to turn in her fellow Black people. The steely resolve in her final words to Mo — “I told you, ‘I got you.’”— further complicates that theory and adds an engrossing richness to Candace’s character.

Black Monday could’ve left Nina Simone’s rendition for the climax of the flashback arc and the episode would still be great. But, Nina returns for one last “I shall be released” after Mo sends Dawn packing following her revelation to Mo about who she really loves. The image of Dawn piercing her lips and steadying her gaze on the countryside instead of being shocked into submission by Mo’s thoughtless decision, while Nina belts out her hope for release, is a moment of Black perseverance we would’ve never thought a show like Black Monday would make a focal point in such an important episode.

The episode also ends with an uncharacteristically sentimental Mo reverting back to his selfish ways at the same time Ms. Simone sings about “release.” And just like that, one four-minute song helps set up the emotional stakes at hand in the final two episodes of Black Monday’s first season.

Continue Reading

Top Stories