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Tracy Morgan Talks '30 Rock,' The Burden of Black Comedians & Beating Alcohol Addiction

He’s outrageous, outlandish and often times out of control and now Tracy Morgan is gearing up for Season 6 of the Emmy award-winning sitcom 30 RockOn the mend from a kidney transplant and on the eve of stepping back into character as his alter ego Tracy Jordan, the Brooklyn native got serious and chatted with VIBE to chat about what fuels his zany brand of humor, why some black comedians will never go mainstream, the childhood pain that fuels his comedy and what made him kick his drinking habit for good. —Ronke Idowu Reeves

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VIBE: You’ve described your rise to fame as ‘a path that is least traveled by African Americans.’ Why?

Tracy Morgan: I got my biggest break on NBC. There’s not many of us on there, I don’t mean that in a bad way, but I went thru Saturday Night Live and I think a lot of our people as a whole stopped watching Saturday Night Live when Eddie Murphy left. My fourth year I started to emerge and get notoriety on the show and then when I left there I went to the Tracy Morgan Show. And after the Tracy Morgan Show was canceled I went to 30 Rock and I that’s when I got a wider audience. I’ve been here [in the business] for a minute but it takes time for people to hear and know your voice, especially when you’re in their home.

 

30 Rock creator Tina Fey seemed to be a fan of yours back when you were both on SNL. As head writer she always included you in the funniest skits. And then she hired you to be on 30 Rock.

Tina Fey understands me, we have great chemistry. We don’t do many scenes together on 30 Rock but when we do the whole thing itis magic. Tina was smart enough to know that I’m smart and I know what I am doing. [I can’t give her] all the credit for my career but she was smart enough to know how to use me. She always told everybody, ‘You gotta let Tracy be Tracy.’ She was an absolutely an ally for me on SNL, totally. Tina and Paula Pell used to write me in stuff all the time. I used to just tickle them and it was cool. After The Tracy Morgan Show got canceled I was in a pretty funky place. And when she called me I didn’t know 30 Rock was gonna [makes explosion sound] the way it did, but I’m glad it happened with her. She’s a really cool cat.

 

Do you think you and Tina would ever do a movie together?

Me and Tina Fey? That would be awesome; I mean it’s different worlds. I would love to do something would Tina Fey in a movie that would be so funny, so hilarious. Me and her can play two cops! I’m quite sure we will [collaborate in film] something. One day we will.

 

You’re the type of comedian who seems to do anything, anytime, anywhere for a laugh. Where does your fearless sense of humor come from?

I’ve never been mean-spirited, I’ve always done things just trying to be funny. Some people may look at it weird, but I’ve always done things in the spirit of comedy. Growing up in the world Black, when I first started doing this on TV I wasn’t used to being around white people. So I had my little inferiority complex. My father had white friends in and out the house when I was younger, but most black entertainers never get over that thing, so they never go mainstream. A lot of them can’t just entertain. What stops a lot of black entertainers is the burden of their people. They try to put the burden of their whole people on their backs and then they don’t have the tools. That’s not your job. So I’ve never felt that way. I had elders in my family tell me, ‘That’s not your job. You do comedy. So you do it.’ It’s not black or white when it comes to funny. I’ve always approached it like that. The same things that make black people laugh make white people laugh.

 

 

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Jacob Knight Steps Out Of His Father Shadow And Into Real Estate On 'Love & Listings'

Breaking into a new career can be tough for anyone, but Suge Jacob Knight is ready to concur the world of real estate in VH1's latest docu-series, Love & Listings.

In the official trailer, we meet Knight known to his friends as Jacob. As the son of the notorious Suge Knight, Cali native has dived into sports, music and fashion, but Jacob is ready to try his hand at real estate. While working on his real estate license, Jacob teams up with Agents of LA's Tai Savent, where he's able to use his celebrity background with work with the likes of Jermaine Dupri, Brandy, Ray J, Vanessa Simmons and more.

Joining him on his real estate journey is Taylor Schwartz, a rookie ready to make her own splash into the game. The eight, one-hour episodes will also include other budding real estate agents of color who are looking to overcome their own bouts of drama.

The series also features Zac Diles, a former professional football player, Ajani Scott, a part-time waitress struggling to become a real estate agent and Andrew Clinkscale, one of the top agents at a popular Beverly Hills agency.

Rounding out the cast will be Samantha Barrette an L.A. transplant moving quickly up the real estate ladder, Erik Miles, a lawyer-turned-real estate agent, entrepreneur and realtor and luxury real estate titan, Alexander Anu.

Love & Listings is executively produced by Entertainment One (eOne), Creature Films and Purveyors of Pop (POP), and produced by Relevé  Entertainment. Tara Long serves as executive producer for eOne with Mark Ford and Kevin Lopez for Creature Films and Nate Green and Matt Anderson for POP, alongside Holly Carter for Relevé.

Christopher Costine and Sean Matthews also serve as executive producers. Concept by Releve’s Holly Carter.

See the trailer along with the rundown of the entire cast below.

Zac Diles

Diles is a former professional football player and has since suited up for a new type of game: real estate. After eight years playing ball, Zac has built a network of clients out of his former teammates (and adversaries). Zac’s love for the ladies (including other agents) often gets him in trouble. Despite being in a relationship with Kat Tat from VH1’s Black Ink Crew: Chicago, Zac finds himself caught between his current girlfriend Kat and fellow cast member and ex-girlfriend Samantha, who is determined to get him back.

Ajani Scott

A part-time waitress struggling to fulfill her dream of becoming a celebrity real estate agent, Scott moved her hustle over to the world of real estate to make some money while she builds her professional network. Seeing her potential, veteran agent Erik Miles has taken Ajani on as an apprentice at his own agency. The stakes are high as Ajani learns to put her money where her mouth is, which jeopardizes Erik’s A-list clientele.

Taylor Schwartz

Despite her young age, she is a force to be reckoned with. She has the charm, smarts and beauty to reel in new clients, but her fiery temper often lands her in hot water, leaving her career in jeopardy. Working under Tai’s wing, Taylor begins to wonder if the “grass is greener” when fellow real estate competitor Andrew Clinkscale offers her a position.

Andrew Clinkscale

Clinkscale is a top agent at one of Beverly Hills’ most prestigious real estate agencies. However, Andrew wasn’t always on top. He grew up through the foster care system and was homeless twice in his life. He’s seen the bottom and is determined to never go back. Andrew’s professional and personal life soon collide as romantic rumors with another real estate agent begin to arise. Will the swirling affair rumors around the engaged “golden boy of real estate” bring him down?

Samantha Barretto

Barretto recently moved to LA and has quickly moved up the real estate food chain by joining one of the most prestigious agencies in Beverly Hills. While running in the same industry circles as her ex-boyfriend Zac, Samantha’s feelings for him begin to heat back up and start to affect her professional life.

Sarah Scheper

After overcoming personal struggles, Sarah has embraced her sobriety and turned over a new leaf in LA. While Sarah quickly becomes the queen of Beverly Hills real estate, her reputation is threatened when she begins an on-again, off-again relationship with Jacob which leads to friction between him and the other agents.

Erik Miles

Miles is a charming lawyer-turned real estate agent, a one-stop shop with his own imprint at a West Hollywood agency. The son of a successful athlete, Erik is willing to take risks to close deals which often pays off... but sometimes blows up in his face.

Tai Savet

Savet is eager to break bread (and the bank) with his unique LA-based brokerage firm as the go-to agent for the biggest names in show-biz. From Tai’s perspective, the future is bright and primed for expansion, especially with a roster of hip millennials on his team, including Taylor and Jacob.

Alexandre Anu

Anu is a real estate titan at of one of LA’s premiere brokerage firms and continues to grow his elite clientele. All of his listings are high-end luxury properties with an extensive client roster of A-list celebrities and top business executives.

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Lashana Lynch Reportedly Lands Role As First Black Woman '007'

Actress Lashana Lynch is poised to make history, according to new reports. The Daily Mail states the 31-year-old thespian will reportedly take on the role of "007" in the upcoming Bond 25 film. This will make her the first black woman spy to command the role since the franchise's decades-long inception.

Lynch's character (Nomi) is central to what is being described as a critical scene. She'll reportedly star as a secret agent who takes over the alias (007) while being tasked with bringing James Bond (Daniel Craig) out of retirement for a new mission, E! News adds.

"There is a pivotal scene at the start of the film where M [played by Ralph Fiennes] says, 'Come in 007,' and in walks Lashana who is black, beautiful and a woman," a film insider said to the Daily Mail. "It's a popcorn-dropping moment. Bond is still Bond but he's been replaced as 007 by this stunning woman."

Bond 25 is directed by Beasts of No Nation's Cary Joji Fukunaga and co-written by Killing Eve's Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The upcoming motion picture will premiere in April 2020.

Lynch was nominated for Female Performance in Film at the 2019 Screen Nation Film and Television Awards. Her breakout movie was Captain Marvel where she played Maria Rambeau. Lynch also played the lead role in Shonda Rhimes' period drama series Still Star-Crossed before it was canceled after its first season in June 2017.

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Courtesy of Lion King

Chiwetel Ejiofor Proves The Real Star Of The 'Lion King’ Is Actually The Villain

The bad guy makes the movie what it is. He tests the parameters of your empathy, understanding, and grace, forcing you to see what you’re made of.

This particular bad guy lets resentment fester and rumble in his belly, as his mighty and righteous brother merits admiration and reverence from faithful servants. When it comes to brains, he knows he has the lion's share, but it’s the permanent mark in the shape of a dagger slicing above his left eye that reminds him his brother is the sole proprietor of brute strength.

It's this same villain who deputizes himself among the others also tired of begging for whatever's left to orchestrate a felony so sorrowful, it plucks at your Adam’s Apple, pushing your screams and cries back into your throat because what’s done cannot be undone.

Chiwetel Ejiofor’s embodiment of the deceitful Scar is just that: a wondrous amalgamation of pain, defeat, rejection and will bursting onto the big screen in Disney’s live-action remake of the Lion King. Jeremy Irons’ 1994 version of the antagonist, while still deceptive, encapsulated a bit of theatrics and bounce. The only telltale sign of Scar’s venom was his flowing jet-black mane. Ejiofor’s 2019 portrayal is bloated with greed, anger and the need to control. The use of the word “bloated” is hyperbole, of course, as on-screen Scar is thin, almost emaciated and physically hungry for the dominance he feels he’s owed.

There’s no need to rehash the 25-year-old film. Moviegoers can be reassured to know director Jon Favreau stayed true to the movie’s heart. He often replicated important scenes detail for detail, including the quintessential opening sequence with the sun rising over the Pride Lands as zebras, antelope, rhinos and other wildlife assembled to meet and bow to the future king.

And while we know Mufasa dies, his live-action death stings even more.

As Hans Zimmer’s “To Die For” thunders, the wildebeest come running down into the gorge and your 10-year-old self tells Simba to run. Hope is still a possibility after Mufasa saves his cub and leaps from the stampede onto the rocks and climbs to the top. Then your 34-year-old self soothes your inner child, because what happens next—the grave offense Scar commits—is irreversible.

But what most miss about Scar, even after 25 years, is under all of his deplorable ways lies his one admirable quality: ambition.

Scar saw himself among the greats and envisioned a kingdom under his rule. He let nothing get in the way of his chosen destiny, including his weak older brother. Scar couldn’t and wouldn’t settle for being a knight, or a duke or a lord. Scar wanted to be king, so much so betrayal and murder were mere casualties in the race to rule Pride Rock.

Who among us has ever gone after our future with more reckless abandon?

Ejiofor understood this insatiable need to ascend to the greatness Scar believed he possessed, and he channeled that with his voice. The east-London native’s lilt took on whatever emotions needed to give way to Scar's true intentions.

Whether it be the flat, emotionless way he dismissed Simba into the den. (“I don’t babysit,” he sneers) or the way he let his words dangle in the air as he covertly described life as Mufasa's brother ("Others spend their lives in the dark...begging for scraps"), Ejiofor’s reinvention of Scar is more than just a voice over. It’s the inflated and arguably updated blueprint Irons left behind.

Ejiofor showed that to embody Scar meant more than reciting lines from a page. It meant whatever couldn’t be expressed through physical emotion seen on screen had to be demonstrated in the inflections, whispers, and passion of his voice. Scar’s lustful desire to outshine his brother and his brother’s memory was on full display whenever Scar was on screen and Ejiofor zeroed in on that, even from behind a microphone.

With fervor, and indignation Ejiofor’s portrayal of Scar proved why, without him, Simba would be nothing. Without Scar, Simba wouldn’t have to face his biggest foe or know how to. While Mufasa taught him compassion, loyalty, and love, Scar taught him to fight. Scar is a liar and a cheat and will stop at nothing to get what he feels rightfully belongs to him. And yet, as vile as Scar is, he's also the unintended teacher.

Ejiofor knew that deeper than his fury and his jealousy, Scar was more than just a bad guy. Scar was an instructor who made Simba and audiences examine themselves and Ejiofor’s performance underscores that. Does it feel good to give Scar his flowers? Of course not. I wouldn't spit on Scar even if he were on fire. But let’s face it, there would be no Lion King if Simba didn’t have to fight for his throne.

So to Scar and to all the bad guys who help us roar a little bit louder, thank you for the unintended lesson.

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