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Erica Hubbard Speaks On Kita 'Let's Stay Together', Her Three Deal-Breakers In Relationships + 'The Single Woman Stigma'

Previous to BET's Let's Stay Together, Erica Hubbard was an actress most commonly recognized from her role on Akeelah and the Bee, but her resumé displays much more. She has lended her acting chops to several other projects, such as Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,  Everybody Hates Chris and recent theater credits. Currently, she plays the boisterously outspoken and fun-loving single woman, Kita Whitmore, on BET's new show that details the dynamic and interactions between her and two couples, one married and one engaged. While she was not busily working on her self-titled, non-profit organization and adamantly advocating great health, she chatted with VIBE Vixen to talk about why Kita is important to African American, why single ladies should be praised, not bashed, and the three things she can't stand about certain guys. -Niki McGloster

How much is Kita from Let’s Stay Together like your real personality?
She’s about 85 percent of who I am. The reason being is because I grew up on the Southside of Chicago, and my influences are very outspoken, they don’t hold their tongue, they say what’s on their mind, they speak the truth, they’re very genuine, they’re sassy and they’re extremely down to Earth. And I like that. I like that free-spirited person that’s going to tell you exactly what’s on their mind. I just like to walk in honesty and be fun-loving about it. At the end of the day, you say what’s on your mind, people get over it but at least you know where somebody stands.

You say that the two of you are 85 percent alike, but what are the main ways in which you two are different?
I like to date [Laughs]! You know? With Kita, I don’t know what’s going on. I went to the writers!

Can fans expect for Kita to have a man in the second season?
I think that I spoke it up so much that [the writers] started asking me what kind of guy Kita would date, and they say that it’s going to happen. As a matter of fact, one of the executives emailed me, and she was like, ‘Ooh, your script is hot!’ That’s all I have to say.

What influences did you draw from to develop Kita’s character?
Just being in an urban city. Also, I like her independence, and I have to say that ‘cause a lot of people don’t talk about how independent she is. They talk about her accent or her dialect, but they never say that she’s a single girl living in a fabulous apartment and she has her own sense of style and she’s independent. The fact that she has a job and is bringing in a steady income, that says a lot about a person.

How important is it for young African American women to see the independence of Kita?
Extremely important. You can have a great job, have a beautiful apartment and be the one that people ask for advice. If you look at a lot of the episodes, people are going the Kita asking her for her advice because she’s so outspoken and genuine. Everybody is kind of like, ‘Oh, what am I going to do in this situation?’ But Kita is pretty much like, ‘Look, this is what I want to do and this is who I am as a person.’ That speaks volume.

It really does, and although she's very relatable, how is Kita different from your previous roles?
She is 100 percent different than Cassie from Lincoln Heights. Cassie’s so shy and she’s an introvert and, you know, she’s just so withdrawn. Those two are total opposites, but the reason why I related to Cassie is because I grew up in the inner-city, but I went to school in the suburbs for the last two years of high school. I was drawing from those experiences. For Cassie, I had to actually work on and develop being Cassie.

Oh, okay, so you had to really dig deep to play her.
That is what I call training [Laughs]! I had to really train to be Cassie. I went to Columbia College, and I studied theatre there, so a lot of the stuff I was using and portraying Cassie were tricks I got from being in theatre school.

That’s what’s up. I really like the dynamic of both characters and to see that you completely develop both. Cassie wasn't single, but there's something I like to call the “single woman stigma.” There are people who believe single women who dish out advice to couples don’t really know what they’re talking about or are bitter in some way. What are your thoughts on that?
To each his own. My thing is when we start judging and labeling and talking about somebody’s lifestyle, then we don’t have time to focus on what’s going on in our life. Everybody’s at a certain place [in their life] for a reason, and with Kita, she doesn’t want to date right now until she finds the right guy, but if you notice, she’s taking notes on what her brother’s doing, what Joyful Drake’s character is doing and that’s actually smart. She’s taking so many notes on what to do and what not to do by looking at the married and engaged couples that she should be really smart when it comes to relationships. But as far as the stigma, take your time until you get it right, and don’t listen to people who say too much negativity. If you have people around you that say too much negativity, that’s the issue; that’s the problem there! Don’t make it your problem. Live in your own identity. Set your own standards and be comfortable.

Exactly, and Kita has watched many things test the relationships of the couples, especially Charles and Stacy. What would you say are three main deal-breakers in a relationship?
If the guy is too negative, always complaining. Oh, I can’t stand complainers! That would be first one my list. And I don’t like uptight people. People that are too uptight and can’t crack jokes or take a joke or make a joke, no! You gotta have a sense of humor. I need to see you smile every once in awhile [Laughs]! Another deal-breaker would be if a guy is too frugal; too cheap. You know, you’re supposed to treat a young lady always. Always treat her.

I feel you because gold-digger issues always come up when a woman expects a guy to come out of his pockets, but it's about gender roles.
You are a queen. You are a young lady. A guy is supposed to treat you like that and treat you to dinner and the movies and everything. He’s supposed to make it seem like he can take care of you. If the guy can’t take care of you, no, no, no, no! You can have a job making whatever, as long as you take care of you queen with whatever you have.

Very true! Now, what can fans expect from you in the future? What other projects are you working on?
I’m getting more into the movies. I did a movie called The Ideal Husband, and I worked with Jackée Harry, so it was refreshing to see her again. Clifton Powell, Ginuwine and Darrin Dewitt Henson. It aired on TV the month before last, so they’re going to be releasing the DVDs really soon. And my character is very different from Kita and Cassie! She’s actually torn between two love interests, so it’s different [Laughs]!

And you have another movie coming up too, right?
Yes, I’m in this movie called Dysfunctional Friends.

When does that release?
Well, they’re screening it now. Somebody just called me and they were screening it on the Tom Joyner Cruise, just to see how people react to it. But I was just happy that my work’s out there!

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Pharrell's New Netflix Kids' Series Focuses On Importance Of STEAM Learning

Pharrell Williams is the executive producer of a new children’s show on Netflix that focuses on educating little ones on the importance of science, technology and current events.

“I got involved with ‘Brainchild’ because there is a desperate need to raise awareness about the importance of science with our youth, we must edu-tain,” Williams told Variety about his new series. The show is hosted by Indian-American actress and comedian Sahana Srinivasan.

Brainchild will use “interactive games, experiments and skits” to teach and highlight the “core concepts and principles of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math).” It was co-created by Atomic Entertainment, and is billed as a spinoff of the Emmy-nominated show “Brain Games,” which aired on National Geographic Channel for seven seasons.

Williams and his i am OTHER production partner Mimi Valdes also discussed the idea of the show’s accessibility for teachers and students. Per Variety, “The curriculum is available without having to sign up or register for any account, and can be used at home or in the classroom to supplement existing tools.”

“It’s especially important to me to get STEAM-focused programming in front of minority communities,” Pharrell says of attempting to reach viewers. “That’s because at the core of the plight of children of color in this country is a lack of access to actionable education.”


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Prepare to have your minds blown 🧠⚡🌊💖💡🔬 I worked with the masterminds of Brain Games on a show that will empower kids by approaching STEM topics in a cool, new way and to provide anOTHER way into science. Thank you to our host @Sahana.j.shree, @AlieWard, Atomic Entertainment, @i_am_other and the @Netflix team. Brainchild OUT NOW on Netflix. #brainchild

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'Black Monday' Becomes A Dramedy As Its World Flips Upside Down: Episode 9 Recap

Blair was Mo’s mirror in episode “295.” In this week’s episode, he internalizes Mo’s qualities, and now the reflection wants to take over the original’s life, like a scene from Jordan Peele’s Us. Some of the most analytically rich parts of this episode revolve around all the allusions to Blair assuming Mo's role after agreeing to go along with the Georgina Play, two months after Mo informed him of the rouse.

Blair flirts with Dawn – the woman Mo still loves – while sitting in Mo's desk chair as Mo walks in and sees them. He gifts all of the Jammer Group inner circle with replicas of Mo's custom-made Rolex and calls them “Molexes” with "f**k em all" engraved on them. It’s the latter mantra that, in a surprising twist, leads to Blair potentially ending Mo as we know him.

An early criticism of Black Monday was Andrew Rannells’ inconsequential portrayal of Blair in the first few episodes. After carrying a large number of scenes in last week’s episode, this week’s showcases his shining moment. One of the funniest scenes s when Blair stops himself from saying "it's all good in the hood," after glancing at Mo, before replacing "hood" with "municipalities." That’s a very artful way to say if he wants to be Mo, he’ll have to do more than speak like him. Consequently, Blair does just that in order to get Tiffany Georgina to go along with the Georgina Play.

The Agency Of Tiffany Georgina

Casey Wilson, who plays Tiffany, needs to star in a spin-off show if for nothing else than to see her do another interpretive dance routine to a remixed version of the national anthem like she did at Tiffany’s wedding reception. We predicted in our review of episode “243” that Tiffany would have a bigger hand in the Black Monday collapse than we originally assumed, and this episode brings our prophecy to life.

Tiffany admits to Blair in the final scene of the episode that she’s a lot to handle but poignantly justifies it by stating everyone isn’t as sure of themselves as she is. It’s in that moment we realized out of all of the characters with considerable screen time, Tiffany may be the only one who never lied about herself. The comments about smart “orientals” are vacuous and her obsession with social status is asinine, but they’re also genuinely Tiffany; Everyone else adjusts their morals and personality to fit whatever gets them money.

Tiffany also reveals that when she was in sixth grade, her parents prevented her from legally emancipating herself from them by giving her a cartilage piercing and a new credit card. In episode “243,” when Blair innocuously says he’s staying late at work to do “compliance,” Tiffany instinctively knew that meant illegally shredding documents because her family is wealthy. Tiffany’s parents had their own daughter kidnapped in last week’s episode to boost the company’s value and now their daughter plans to steal that very company from them. The Black Monday writers used the Georgina family this season as a commentary on how money can make anything transactional, even love and loyalty.

Just like with Mo, the Georgina family may be undone by a monster they created.

The Dramedy

In today’s age of television, shows rarely fit perfectly in one genre. Orange Is The New Black’s second season was nominated in the drama category at the 2015 Primetime Emmy Awards, a year after its first season was nominated in the comedy category. This blurring of the artistic lines has created a new type of show that is equal parts drama and comedy: a dramedy. After the last two episodes, Black Monday has become more dramedy than comedy.

In the first half of the season, Black Monday was roughly 90% hilarious debauchery with the 10% of deep introspection reserved for the final minutes of the episode. Over time, that ratio began to even out until last week’s episode, which delivered the highest concentration of drama acting of the season. In this week’s episode, the double and triple crossings in Blair and Mo’s heated rivalry are more central to the episode than Keith’s hysterical attempts at tricking the SEC and Tiffany’s ridiculous wedding. Aside from Dawn and Mo forming a secret alliance, the episode concludes with Blair’s most intimidating piece of dialogue as he breaks down the illusionary world Mo has constructed for himself.

While episode “7042” is the most compelling episode of the entire season, so far, the move into dramedy has its drawbacks. There are still gems like Mo’s double entendre of “I’ve unearthed secrets, got winded and fired,” a play on the name of legendary funk band Earth, Wind & Fire, who released their 1987 Billboard hit “System of Survival” a month before the events in this week’s episode. But, the hijinks and absurdist humor that Black Monday is predicated on are more separated than in any other episode.

As a result of this shift into dramedy, certain jokes not only fall flat but feel out of place and tonally different than the rest of the episode. Keith referring to the ability to know who is gay as “Navi-gay-tion” would be amusing in almost any other Black Monday episode. Him delivering it at the end of this week’s episode, after a dramatic exchange between Dawn and Mo, felt cringeworthy.

Hopefully, there’ll be plenty to laugh about when everything comes crashing down in the season finale next week.

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Jordan Peele attends the 'US' premiere at Museum of Modern Art on March 19, 2019 in New York City.
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'Us' Nabs Title Of Biggest Opening Weekend For An Original Horror Film

Jordan Peele’s second major film Us dropped over the weekend (Mar. 22), and much like its predecessor Get Out, it’s a monster of a hit.

According to reports, Us’ debut was the best opening for an original horror film in history, bringing in $70.25 million during its opening weekend. Its massively successful weekend also secures its spot as the third-best horror movie debut in history, behind the remakes of It and Halloween.

“Internationally, “Us” earned $16.7 million, bringing its total worldwide tally to $86.9 million,” reports CNBC.

Us tells the story of Adelaide Wilson (Lupita Nyong’o), a woman who is traumatized by an experience she had as a child. When unexpected visitors who look exactly like her and her family pay a visit to their beach house several years later, she, her husband (Winston Duke) and children have to help her combat her fears and demons.

CNBC reveals that early projections for her film were close to $50 million. However, strong ticket sales prompted analysts to change their estimates.

"The film took in $29 million between Thursday previews and Friday night showings, a strong start for a horror film that doesn’t have the benefit of a major franchise fueling ticket sales," the report continues.

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