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Pardon the Introduction - Dee Rees on Working With Spike Lee, How Her Life Inspired 'Pariah'

Dee Rees, writer and director for the forthcoming film Pariah says that the movie was semi-inspired by her life. VIBE caught up with her to find out how she got Spike Lee involved, and her bright future which includes more films and a TV show feautring Viola Davis.

You mentioned that “Pariah” was inspired by your own experiences. Can you elaborate on that?

Yeah, it’s semi autobiographical. I went through some similar experiences, so like Alike when I came out, I had a struggle with my parents accepting who I was and I also had the internal struggle realizing that my spirituality and my sexuality were infused as forces and so those are things that she’s come to realize on top of her journey to discover that even within the gay world she doesn’t have to pick a box, she doesn’t have to be hard, she doesn’t have to be soft, she can just be herself, and those are things I dealt with in my own coming out and placed them on to this 17-year-old.

How did your parents react to the movie?

They just saw it and it was really transformative. They made a 180 and they said that they loved me and they’re proud of me and so it was a big moment with this whole film process.

How did you get into film and writing this movie?

I started out in business and worked in marketing because I thought that I could be creative and I could do my writing on the side but three cubicles later and three years later, I realized that I wasn’t really happy [because] I wasn’t doing what I wanted to do. I was actually on a photo shoot for a shoe insole where I realized that that was where I wanted to be and I went to the ad exec and asked how to get into it and he explained to me I should go to film school. So I applied to NYU, got in and didn’t look back. So it was really a kind of round about way but I appreciate that.

How did you get Spike Lee on board?

Spike lee came on as executive producer as we were developing the film. He was one of my professors at NYU and I interned with him. So, that’s where the relationship started and then he would read the script and give us feedback and then Nikisa Cooper, the producer, asked him to come on board and become executive producer because he was basically acting as one by being such a mentor to us. He just gave us guidance and feedback as we went through the process. It was great having him there, even as we moved on to distribution he was there. We ended up selling the film to Focus and they’ve been really passionate about it. They really get the film on the core level, so they’ve been really collaborative and artist friendly.

What want people take away from “Pariah?”

I want people to be OK with the fact that it’s OK to be themselves and that they don’t have to check a box—Gay, straight or whoever you are, you need to be your authentic self and you don’t need to conform to people’s expectations of who you should be.

What else are you working on?

I working on a TV series for HBO with Viola Davis that I’m really excited about and I also just finished another feature script for something called Bolo that will be set in the south and then I have another feature script called Large Print, which is about a 50 something who is recently divorced and has to redefine happiness for herself. These stories have intricate characters. I make stories that are meaningful and help people see themselves and view the world a little differently.

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A 'New York Undercover' Reboot May Be On The Way

Nostalgia seems to be the name of the game these days. As networks flirt with the idea of rebooting beloved television shows birthed in the 90s, the return on investment appears to be two-fold: being able to tap into the fanbase that helped catapult the show to success, while exposing the series to a new audience.

According to Deadline, ABC is not only rebooting NYPD Blue but also considering bringing back New York Undercover. Created by Dick Wolf, the cop drama starring Malik Yoba and Michael DeLorenzo was the first series that featured two actors of colors as the lead.

Yoba and DeLorenzo played undercover detectives J.C Williams and Eddie Torres with New York's fourth precinct. Later on in the series, Lauren Valez joined the cast as a detective and Torres' love interest. Originally housed on Fox, the series lasted from 1994-1998, with the unsuspecting death of Torres who perished in a car bomb.

Wolf's agent spoke to Deadline and hinted about the reprisal. "Wolf  is reviving one of his shows from years ago – it’s a franchise you can redo” that “doesn’t necessarily have to have the same cast.” Reportedly there are multiple networks interested.

If the show does make a return, will you tune in?

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Awww Here It Goes: Kenan Thompson And Kel Mitchell Would Do A 'Good Burger' Sequel

Millennials rejoice! It looks like 90s television staples Kenan Thompson and Kel Mitchell would be down to do a sequel to their cult-classic film, Good Burger.

During a visit to Bravo's Watch What Happens Live, SNL star Thompson was asked a phoned-in question about the possibility of a "full-on sequel" to the film. A few years ago, Kenan and Kel reunited on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon for a resurrection of their All That sketch of the same name. It looks like the same question has crossed their minds before, and they are both open to the opportunity.

"We’ve been talking about it for a long time, and we’ve had meetings about it," Thompson revealed. "So, it’s in the higher powers’ hands, because we both said were down to do it."

He also elaborated on the viral Good Burger reunion seen on Fallon.

"Thanks to Dan Schneider [All That's creator], he called me and he was like, a friend of his was working on The Tonight Show, and they had that idea to do the reunion. He reached out to me and then I called Kel, and then we talked, we played phone tag for like three days… it was a nice, 40 minute conversation that we had… it was nice to reconnect because it was like picking up right from where we left off.”

Let's hope that we can see a sequel to the film in our lifetime, as we expect it'd be welcome with open arms.

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50 Cent offers his condolences to a deceased member of the 'Power' crew.
Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images

Rest In 'Power': Crew Member For 50 Cent's Show Killed On Set

50 Cent offered his condolences to the loved ones of Pedro Jimenez, a crew member who was killed on the set of his hit STARZ show, Power, earlier this morning. (Monday, Dec. 10).

"I just learned we lost Pedro Jimenez, a member of the Power production team early this morning," wrote the media mogul in an Instagram post, which accompanied a black screen. "My prayers and condolences are with the entire Jimenez family."

According to TMZ, "Pedro Jimenez was setting up parking cones for a location shoot in Brooklyn around 4:20 AM when he was struck by a 2006 Ford Explorer. Police responded and Pedro was transported to a Brooklyn Hospital, where he was pronounced dead."

Jimenez was just 63 years old, and had reportedly worked on the series since its debut in 2014. Reports state that investigators have spoken with the 64-year-old driver of the vehicle that struck Mr. Jimenez, who is also a crew member on the show. No arrests have been made.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I just learned we lost Pedro Jimenez, a member of the Power production team early this morning. My prayers and condolences are with the entire Jimenez family.

A post shared by 50 Cent (@50cent) on Dec 10, 2018 at 9:29am PST

READ MORE: 50 Cent Reportedly Has A ‘Power’ Prequel In The Works

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