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Pooch Hall Talks New Show 'Ray Donovan,' Working With Spike Lee And Short-Lived Rap Career

Pooch Hall's journey to Hollywood's elite has just taken another leap forward. After starring in small films and his popular stint as Derwin Davis on BET's The Game, Hall parted ways with the show last year and has taken a hefty role alongside some top-shelf actors.

On Showtime's new series Ray Donovan, Hall plays the surprise half-brother of Liev Schreiber, a Hollywood fixer who seems to solve everyone's grimy problems but his own. His father, played by John Voight, also comes home from prison five years early and shakes up the already unsteady status quo in the Donovan family. Pooch talked with VIBE about his new role, working with Spike Lee and why fans shouldn't hold their breath for another Derwin Davis cameo.—Desire Thompson

VIBE: Tell me about the show Ray Donovan. It looks like it’s going to be pretty intense.
Pooch Hall: I just want to start by saying how happy I am to be apart of such a great production. It’s a show that has been established by Ann Biderman, the executive producer, Mark Gordon, and Bryan Zuriff. They’ve assembled an all-star cast so it’s kind of like the '92 Olympic Team. We plan on winning not one, not two, not three but all of the [Emmys]! [Laughs] It’s a show that takes place in California and follows Ray Donovan (played by Liev Schreiber) a Boston native who is a fixer for Hollywood’s rich and famous. He has an immediate family and an outside family. That’s where I come in. I play his half-brother and I’m a fighter with my other two half-brothers in the Donovan fight club. You’ll see in the pilot he doesn’t know about me and when he’s introduced to me, he isn’t really accepting of me and I’m trying to figure out why. He’s kind of this mysterious character. Our father Mickey, who is played by Jon Voight, comes back to Hollywood after being released from prison and just shakes up a bunch of problems and craziness for us as a family and for Ray Donovan as a fixer. Things get crazy.

Prior to The Game, you did another family drama that was centered on the importance of family called Miracle's Boys with Spike Lee. Any lessons you've related to your new role?
A lot of what I've learned as an actor comes from that. Working with Spike, I learned a lot about family and professionalism as an actor and a man. It got me ready for this moment right here. If I didn't work with Spike, I wouldn't be where I'm at, working with John Voight, Paula Malcomson and Eddie Marsden.

What is the biggest lesson you've learned from Voight and Schreiber?
To trust my instincts, listen and not be afraid to try different things. A lot of my scenes are with John and he is always trying to find the best nuances and unlock hidden boxes of magic in a character or a scene, and he allows me to see what we can find.

You boxed in real life for a while. How did that help your character?
It adds another layer because it's not just a regular show with stand-ins. I'm doing my own stunts and we train together. The boxing element adds to the the greatness that's already there?

What was the fitness regimen like?
We (Dash Mihok, Eddie and Liev) all trained together. We would box, do calisthenics, leg work and core conditioning. I'm trying to get my next job as a biracial action hero. Conditioning and staying fit is a big part of the casts' lifestyle.

What happened to that rap career?
When I started Ray Donovan, I had to put that on the back burner but I wasn't trying to compete with anyone. I did it for fun. I don't want to disrespect hip-hop by being something I'm not. I'm Pooch Hall. My strength is in front the camera and holding dialogue. If the music happens to present itself again then we'll see what happens. Right now I'm working with Lee Davis who did 3 A.M.with Spike Lee, and we're moving forward with that. Hopefully it will get the green light soon.

Speaking of hip-hop, have you listened to the new Kanye West or J.Cole albums? Which artists get you pumped in the ring?
Kanye definitely. I haven't heard all of Cole's but I love the "Let Nas Down" joint. However people feel about Kanye is their opinion but I think he's a genius. I like when people put out music that makes you think and listen. My favorite artist has to be Jay Z. Jadakiss is my guy and Drake. It's interesting because my character is music-oriented and Ryan Gosling did some music for Ray Donovan. You'll find that true artists will make the best music out there.

What do you think your fans will learn about you in your new project?
They'll see that there's nothing I can't do. I think athletically I can be okay with any role but I'm willing to go over and beyond for my work. My fan base is so strong and loyal, and they wanna see me evolve. I'm where I'm supposed to be and I want to challenge myself with the people that are doing it real big. Jon has worked with Will Smith. I want to be up there with Will. I want to work with Denzel (Washington). I know it won't be peaches and cream but I'm willing to put in the work. I know Will, Denzel and Jamie (Foxx) did so that's what I'm willing to do.

Will you ever make a return to The Game?
The opportunity [for a cameo] presented itself in the beginning with Showtime letting me do both shows so I did the premiere and that was it. I can't speak on [BET's behalf] but if it was me, as a network representative, knowing that they had an actor that helped make The Game what it was and he's on a higher profile show with A-listers, I would have jumped on it. I'm at Showtime now and they show me so much love. The fact that they're not threatened by another network is great because they know what they have and are solidifying their place in Hollywood. That shows how true they are to the fans and the shows. It's a testament to where I'm supposed to be at so I want to make sure I can be the best Pooch Hall/ Darryl Donovan I can be.

Catch the premiere of Ray Donovan on Sunday, June 30 at 10 PM ET/PT on Showtime.

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‘Boyz N The Hood’ And ‘You Got Served’ Actress Esther Scott Dies At Age 66

Esther Scott, the actress who appeared in Boyz n the Hood, Beverly Hills 90210, Full House, You Got Served and more, has passed away at age 66.

Scott died last Friday (Feb. 14), days after suffering an apparent heart attack. Her death was first reported on Tuesday (Feb. 18) by TMZ.

According to the site, Scott was found unconscious in her Santa Monica, Calif. home last Tuesday (Feb. 11) and remained hospitalized for several days before passing away on Valentine's Day surrounded by friends and family.

"She loved what she did. She would get stopped on the street often and people would recognize her -- but they didn't know her name," Scott's sister told the website. "Hopefully now people will remember her name, her work and the contributions she gave to the entertainment industry."

The Queens native began her career as a voice actress in the ‘80s series StarWars: Ewoks. Scott’s first credited feature film role was as grandmother to the character Tisha (played by Leonette Scott) in Boyz n the Hood.

Scott worked steadily throughout the ‘90s and ‘00s, following up her appearance in Boyz n the Hood with roles in Encino Man, Don Juan DeMarco, Illegal Blue, Species, The Craft, and Out to Sea.

Scott found success in both TV and film appearing as a judge in Austin Powers in Goldmember, a grandmother in You Got Served, as well as roles in Dreamgirls, Transformers, Gangster Squad, and The Birth of a Nation, The Steve Harvey Show, Party of Five, Ellen, Hart of Dixie, and Sister, Sister.

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Malcolm X’s Assassination To Be Reinvestigated After Docuseries Raises Questions

A documentary on Malcolm X’s assassination has prompted authorities to reexamine the case. In Who Killed Malcolm X? historian Abdur-Rahman Muhammad explores the many questions surrounding the death of one of history’s most pivotal figures. The six-part series originally aired on Fusion but has been gaining popularity since appearing on Netflix.

This February will mark the 55-year anniversary of Malcolm’s murder. The former Nation of Islam leader, who left the organization and changed his name to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, was gunned down inside Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom on February 21, 1965. Three members of the NOI, Mujahid Abdul Halim, Muhammad Abdul Aziz and Khalil Islam, were convicted for the murder and sentenced to life in prison.

As noted by the Innocence Project, Aziz and Islam always maintained their innocence, while Halim confessed to partaking in the fatal shooting. In 1966, Halim testified that Aziz and Islam had “nothing to do” with the murder. In 1978, Halim identified four other men as co-conspirators. His confession was supported by FBI documents obtained by civil rights lawyer William Kunstler. Prosecutors in the original trial claimed to have been unaware of the documents and New York State Supreme Court Judge Harold Rothwax ultimately rejected a motion to vacate Aziz and Islam’s convictions. Rothwax died in 1997.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance has since met with representatives from the Innocence Project “and associated counsel regarding the matter,” a spokesperson for the DA’s office said in an emailed statement, per NPR.

Although Islam died in 2009, Aziz, now 81, continues to fight to clear his name. He was freed on parole in 1985. The Innocence Project joined forces with civil rights attorney David Shanies to re-investigate Azis’s conviction. “We are grateful that District Attorney Vance quickly agreed to conduct a review of the conviction of Muhammad Aziz. Given the historical importance of this case and the fact that our client is 81 years old, we are especially encouraged that Mr. Vance has assigned two highly respected prosecutors, Peter Casolaro and Charles King, to work on this re-investigation,” the Innocence Project and Shanies said in a joint statement. “We look forward to working cooperatively with them to see that justice is done.”

Casolaro worked on the case of the Exonerated Five and King is a member of the Conviction Integrity Program of the New York County District Attorney’s Office.

As noted by the Innocence Project, there was no physical evidence linking Aziz or Islam to Malcolm’s murder. In fact, Aziz wasn’t even at the venue. The day of the murder, Aziz had returned home after being treated for a leg injury. He heard about Malcolm's assassination while listening to the radio that day, and has doctors and witnesses, to corroborate his story.

Watch the trailer for Who Killed Malcolm X? below.

 

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Ava DuVernay Named Director Of Nipsey Hussle Documentary For Netflix

Ava DuVernay's next cinematic feat will center on a hometown legend. According to Deadline, the acclaimed director will lead a documentary on Nipsey Hussle for streaming giant Netflix.

The announcement was made on Monday (Feb. 10), two weeks since DuVernay presented a musical tribute to the late rapper at the 52nd annual Grammy Awards. Hussle won two gramophones that evening: Best Rap Performance and Best Rap/Sung Performance.

In tribute to his birthday on August 15, the Emmy-award winning director shared a message on Twitter that expressed her gratitude for the interactions they had. "Grateful that he existed. Grateful we walked this vast earth at the same time," she wrote. "In the same city. Grateful that our paths crossed. Grateful for the work and wisdom he gave us."

For Nipsey. Ermias. Son. Brother. Partner. Friend. Artist. Champion. Grateful that he existed. Grateful we walked this vast earth at the same time. In the same city. Grateful that our paths crossed. Grateful for the work and wisdom he gave us. We miss you. Happy Birthday, Nip. xo pic.twitter.com/cNEZHUhiao

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) August 15, 2019

On March 31, 2019, Hussle, born Ermias Asghedom, was fatally shot outside of his Marathon Clothing store in Los Angeles. His death rattled various communities and prompted supporters and new fans to take a look back at this trajectory within music and entrepreneurship.

According to Billboard, other streaming services in the mix included Apple and Amazon. Alongside Hussle's family, the entrepreneur's Marathon Films will also helm production duties.

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