Vixen Chat: Sommore Talks 'Chandelier Status,' Dressing for the Stage and Dream Movie Role

If you think being a woman in the workforce is hard, try being a female comedian.

Like most industries, the "funny business" is male-dominated and slow to accept a lady behind the mic. For 20 years, Sommore has defied the odds with her unique brand of sass and class. As an undisputed queen of comedy, she continues to tour and tackle just about any topic with wit, confidence and, of course, hilarity.

Tonight (May 31), she'll unleash her newest material on Chandelier Status, a television special airing on Showtime. Vixen caught up with the comic to talk about her new gig, dressing for the stage and what she does best: making people laugh. -- Nicole Brown

--

VIBE Vixen: What is the story behind Chandelier Status?
Sommore:
I came up with the title because I wanted to describe what I'm feeling in this new society. Everything moves fast. The only way to know who you are is to stay true to yourself and be a chandelier. When you see a room that's beautiful, it's usually the chandelier that's constant. People usually change all the other things in the room, but the chandelier stays and illuminates the whole room. So, I decided that I was going to live my life like a chandelier meaning I wasn't going to hate on no one else. I wasn't going to compete with anyone else. I was going to concentrate on being the best me that I can be. I believe that when you do that, you shine.

What is the key to reinvention for a long lasting career?
I don't think it's a reinvention. As a stand-up comedian, there's a lot of time when the light don't shine on us. Most of my work is done at night. When the light is on us, it may look like we're reinventing, but I've been doing this constantly for 20 years. I think that people will see the growth in me. When you do this for 20 years, you have to talk about your life. I think that I'm funnier than ever. My view and my take on society, it's smart and it's clever.

Speaking of "new society," are you drawing inspiration from what you see in social media?
I get my material from my perspective. I don't tell jokes on Twitter and I don't get comedians who do. Every now and then, I'll tweet funny ideas I have. But there's so much more that goes into a joke. The media right now is a blessing and a curse. It's a beautiful thing that people can express themselves. People are committing to group thinking [but] sometimes you can lose your individuality.

Is there such thing as going too far in comedy?
I try not to do mean-spirited comedy. There's only two people I won't talk about and that's Whitney Houston and Oprah. After that, everyone and anyone else is cool.

What do you do when the audience doesn't laugh at your joke?
It happens. When the audience doesn't laugh, as a comedian, perfectionist and artist, I don't blame them. I blame myself. It could be various reasons. Someone may have told the same joke before you. They could be settling down and not really listening. I'm a professional. Sometimes they won't get it, but when they do, it's a beautiful thing.

And hilarious. So, why do you think female comics are few and far in between?
It's a male-dominated business. We have to fight for everything that we get. There's men that just don't think that we're funny. And there's people that are going to think women aren't funny period. They get discouraged and give up. It's hard for us to get stage time, to even go up at open mics. I tell women we need to hear your voice. I want to see a woman who has six kids by six different men. I want to see what she thinks is funny. I want to see her get up on stage and bare her soul.

Speaking of men, are you dating?
I date on the road. Usually if a guy is a fan of mine, he already has a perception of me that I'll probably disappoint him. He probably thinks I'm something that I'm not.

VV: Switching to style, what are your must-haves for the dressing room?
S: I have to have water. I have to have Ciroc, pineapple juice, grilled chicken, vegetables, chocolate covered strawberries, roses and candles.

How do you deal with the bright stage lights during a performance?
I hate when I'm finished working and I don't look ugly because that means I didn't work hard enough. When I'm done, I'm usually sweating. I try to use a mattifier, but the lights are hot. Nine times out of ten, I got on some sequins or something hot. I wish I could learn to wear something breezy, but I'm always picking something hot and dramatic.

How do you decide what to wear?
However I'm feeling. My biggest fear is to show up to work and someone in the audience has on the same thing I have on, so I make sure they don't. With that, I just create something to wear. I use Black Opal products. I love makeup. I read makeup books and videos and all those kind of things. MAC makeup. For the most part, I do girly stuff. I'm a girly girl, but I can hang with the boys.

Now, your sister Nia Long just wrapped filming on The Best Man Holiday. Will you be watching?
Of course! I'm her number one fan.

What is your dream movie role?
I want to smack the shit out of someone in a movie. I really do. I just want to be fabulous and go in there and slap the shit out of somebody. I'm past the drink throwing. I want to play a real, real bitch.

Catch Chandelier Status tonight at 10:30pm on Showtime. The DVD is also available for purchase via ITunes or Amazon.

From the Web

More on Vibe

Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.
KMazur/WireImage

Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.

 

Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/LxZfxcqRgF

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/BHlANZjCGZ

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/vLqLTVxqO9

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/ALDcT0ZQxR

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/zwk0AWMCoE

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/mM2GWEg1pe

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!pic.twitter.com/GfxBeJxUY1

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...

#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/iXNwssD3sY

— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/cGl269tuTr

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

Continue Reading
Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

Continue Reading
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today’s society,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

Each episode will place three chefs against each other as they craft three-course meals with cannabis as the central ingredient. Each episode’s winner takes home $10,000. Guests will play an integral role in who takes home the cash prize. Too $hort, and El-P are just a few of this season's guests.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

Continue Reading

Top Stories