Robinne Lee Robinne Lee

Vixen Chat: Robinne Lee Talks 'Being Mary Jane'

Robinne Lee 2013 365 Black Awards

Unlike everything else on TV, Being Mary Jane is already proving to be a much needed breath of fresh air for the black community. This show touches on issues that affect many but rarely have light shed on them. Robinne Lee agreed very much with the purpose and message of the show, which is why she was so eager to audition for a part in this series. Lee stars as Avery Daniels an overachiever trophy wife who's perfect marriage gets flipped once new enemy, Gabrielle Union informs her of the affair she's having with her husband. While she's polar opposites of her character, "she’s much more tolerate of her husbands infidelities than I’ll ever be and she’s much more harder to read," she identifies with the issue raised within her character and the entire storyline: "BMJ is pretty much how we are now. It’s not a fantasy, it’s a woman’s life, it’s real and it’s relatable."

We got chance to chat with the wife and mother of two about her original career path, "I knew I always wanted to pursue a career in the arts--but my parents were immigrants from Jamaica and were very vocal about me not pursing acting professionally until I was done getting my degrees", the actress told us of her educational path through Yale and then Law School first. And she also dished on working opposite her longtime friend Gabrielle Union again, "she’s like a sister to me and when you get to work on great material plus with someone you know and love, it’s a better set up and such an incredible experience."

The show aires Tuesdays on BET at 10p/9c. While you wait for next week's show, flip the page to get familiar with Robinne.

Photo Credit: Film Magic via Getty

Being Mary Jane RObinne Lee

VIBE Vixen:  How did it come about you getting the role?

Robinne Lee: I auditioned for it. When the pilot was being shot, I read for two different shots, I read for my part and the part played by Lisa Vidal, it was either best friend or the nemesis. Even when I was reading it, I was really, really drawn to the role of Avery Daniels because the material was so strong, surprising, and different from anything I’ve ever played before. Sometimes you go in there with blind faith and hope you can do the best you can and you give them everything you’ve got and just hope. That’s pretty much what I did and I was really lucky to get it.

How similar are you to Avery and how different are you?

I’m similar because I’m kind of an overachiever and I’m married, and I’m trying to juggle it all. I’m a little Type A [laughs] so I think that’s the things we have in common, but that’s where it ends. She’s much more tolerate of her husbands infidelities than I’ll ever be and she’s much more harder to read. I feel like she put up this wall and she’s very reserved, not cold but just removed. I’m very emotional and I let it show and I feel like for her it’s the complete opposite.

Being that she’s so different, how did you prepare to get in the role?

I feel like I turned something off in myself. For me my natural instinct is to show everything. As an actress your learning that camera reads through your emotion so your goal is to convey what you’re feeling so the audience could read it. I feel like for this character it’s the complete opposite and that was my struggle—keeping things under wrap and things private.

How important do you think Being Mary Jane is to women in general, but mainly to women of color?

I think it’s huge because it is something we have not seen before. It’s a portrayal of a Black woman that is very real and very multi layered and multi faceted. It’s not this character or cliché of what people think and because it’s produced by a Black woman who’s got all these insights but wants to go about it in a subtle way and make it very real and not just go for the laughs or the craziness of it, it’s real life. A lot of situations are heightened but I still think the responses and everything that’s happening are real. This is one woman’s experience, but many of us have gotten ourselves into very similar situations. it’s relatable. It is written about and for a Black women but it’s not just a Black woman’s story. I think men will be able to relate to this and I think it’ll be able to cross the board.

If there is, is there any show that’s out there right now that’s similar or goes in the same direction as BMJ?

Not right now, no. I think people are going to want to compare it to Scandal because it’s a hot show right now and Kerry [Washington] does such a wonderful job and it’s great to see a Black woman carry the lead in such a powerful role. But I mean Scandal—and I love Shonda Rhimes—but its much more fantasy and if it’s not fantasy, it’s not every Black woman. Black women are not having a current affair with the president. BMJ is pretty much how we are now. It’s not a fantasy, it’s a woman’s life and it’s real and it’s relatable. Both of them that I really do like and Shonda has done a great job and Mara [Brock Akil] the same thing, these shows allow us as Black women to see us as desirable, vulnerable, and flawed. I don’t feel like we’ve seen that. Either we’re the sassy one and we don’t get to be vulnerable or we are unattractive because we’re aggressive in the business area, or we’re the sidekick and we’re not seen as desirable or we’re so desirable it’s like the hot character and we’re not seen as flawed or vulnerable. I like that we’re being touched upon and both those characters are educated, and it’s a wonderful image for girls growing up today to see that you can be all those things.

It is and that’s my next question--are you hoping that it alters the direction of TV and movies in the way that black women are depicted?

Very much so, we haven’t seen that in a while. I’m trying to imagine the last time we saw Black women in those roles and I can’t [remember], there was Girlfriends and it was slightly different because it was multi-camera comedy. Coming from that way you’re going for the laughs. Even the shows that I can think of where we were in abundance like the Cosby Show, they were sitcoms; they weren’t dramas. It’s been a long time for a good Black drama.

It’s refreshing but you also ask yourself why wasn’t this done a long time ago.

I know, it’s a no brainer, but it’s also getting the studio to believe in you and I think BET is probably the first one. I think Shonda Rhimes has been doing wonderful with ABC and not just with this but with Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice and just having very multiracial and cultural cast. She does a really great job with that but this story is really about a one woman’s story. It’s not focused on a hospital or doctor’s office but this is a woman’s life and all parts to her life.

Photo Credit: Trailer


Robinne Lee2012 Pan African Film Festival - "The Under Shepherd" PremiereI know that you and Gabrielle Union worked on Deliver us From Eva, how is it working with her again?

It’s wonderful. We’ve been close friends since Eva so it’s been over 10 years. She’s like a sister to me and when you get to work on great material plus with someone you know and love, it’s a better set up and such an incredible experience. We have our own language, we go into the scene having a common short hand and we don’t have to discuss like ‘how do you want to play this’ or ‘how do you see this’, we’re not testing each other out. It’s easy like playing dress up with your sister like, ‘let’s pretend you’re sleeping with my husband, okay go.’ But it’s that enjoyable, that good because we allow each other the space to be in it emotionally and take the ride. We can throw these punches at one another and take them. I think it’s something actors do, yes, but it’s a little bit more enjoyable and easy because we are friends first.

With your educational background, what made you go off your corporate path onto a creative one?

I knew I always wanted to pursue a career in the arts whether it be a writer or an actress. They both always appealed to me but my parents were immigrants from Jamaica and were very vocal about me not pursing acting professionally until I was done getting my degrees, they were all about education. I went to Yale and on the car ride up my dad said to me “don’t think we’re sending you to Yale to study drama” so I ended up majoring in Psychology. When I graduated, I moved to New York and I felt like it was my chance to pursue my dream professionally and they said you can but we made a deal, I applied to law school while pursuing acting. I got in [to school] the same time my career was taking off and the first one, this little film I did called Hav Plenty got picked up by Miramax film festival and I felt myself thrown into both head first.

Isn’t that usually how it happens?

Yeah exactly! My first year of law school was notoriously the most difficult year the first semester. It’s very different from undergrad but I really felt lucky because I felt I had a balance. My friends who were in law school were consumed with everything going on in school and my friends in the acting world were consumed with themselves, their auditions, and their work and I felt like I had balance because I had other things I had to focus on in both directions. For me it was really good because I had two things going on at once and I never became that crazy neurotic law student who’s pulling her hair out and I didn’t beat myself up after every single audition. It was a nice balance.

Are you conscious over what role you’ll take because of your kids?

I am and I’m not. I’m in a point now where I want to do things for me so I’m looking for roles that will stretch me, stimulate me, and excite me. I don't want to do roles that won’t push my career forward at this point or stretch me as an actor unless I’m doing a favor for a friend. Because time working is time away from my kids, I have to be more selective of the roles that I take. I’m not worried because I’m hoping their friends aren’t watching it either. My sons in second grade and my daughter’s in pre-school so I don’t worry about that. I’m aware of what they’re watching and consuming and if something’s adult, they can’t watch it.

Do you have a dream role you’d want to play and dream person to work with that you haven’t worked with yet?

I love Cate Balanchett, I love everything she does. I would love to work with her. I love to watch Matt Damon’s work, I love that he makes such varied choices and he’s happy doing comedy or an ensemble, he can do action, or drama; he can carry a film. I love Viola Davis’ work I would love to be across from her in a scene.

What advice do you have to someone wanting to follow his or her dreams?

In general it’s important to have patience and be determined and know it may not happen over night but it is. First and foremost get your education. Finish high school and if you can go to college, go to college. If you want to act, study it. Don’t go to LA or NY thinking you have a pretty face and you did that play in high school because there are so many out there like you who have done the work. Know the work, study it, and do your homework.

Photo Credit: Getty

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That Glow, Tho: How To Revive Your Skin After A Brick A** Winter

Whew, chile! Freshly fallen snow may be nice to look at, but the dry skin that accompanies the winter months ain’t it. And by the time the first tulip blooms come springtime, best believe your skin—which just endured months of humidity-deprived conditions—is super parched. Pass the moisturizer, please!

“The lack of humidity during the winter months is the main cause for the ‘winter’s itch’ and dryness,” Dr. Meena Singh, board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon, told VIBE Vixen over email. And let’s not forget how the shorter days rob us ladies of the melanated variety of our warm and natural glow.

Luckily, there are many ways to combat such cold weather woes, both during and after the winter.

“I personally change my regimen significantly between seasons,” Singh added. “In the winter time, I am more prone to use heavier ointments and butters. Whereas in the spring, I can typically get away with moisturizing with emollient creams and lotions.”

But that’s not all you can do to whip your skin back into shape. Looking to bring your fly and radiant self back to life? Look no further. Vixen reached out to five women of color dermatologists, who’ve shared the following tips to help you get started.


Hydrate From Within.

How many times have you asked a woman with bomb skin what her secret is and been met with the “I drink a lot of water” response? Did you figuratively roll your eyes? We’ve been there and we get it, especially since science says genetics do play a role in how your skin behaves—but homegirl wasn’t wrong!

Dr. Fran E. Cook-Bolden, board-certified NYC dermatologist and cosmetic surgeon, tells Vixen that while you may not feel as thirsty when it’s cold out, it’s still important to stay hydrated and drink your eight glasses of water a day.

“The best way to avoid dry skin in the winter is to tackle it from the inside out,” she says.

Other ways to stay hydrated? suggests eating fruits such as apples, pears, and clementines, which are all over 80% water. Plus, not only will the vitamin C content of these fruits help you ward off the flu in the winter, but they’ll also keep you cool and refreshed once the weather warms up.

We stan a multifaceted solution.

Don't Forget To Cleanse.

As important as it is to drink your eight glasses a day, it’s also important to keep up with your cleansing routine—even if you’re not sweating as much.

In fact, board-certified Chicago dermatologist Dr. Caroline Robinson tells Vixen that maintaining moisture during the harsh winter months begins with cleansing. Washing our face removes makeup, dirt, and debris from the day, preventing buildup and breakouts. This also means the expensive serums and moisturizers you’ve probably splurged on are better absorbed by the skin.

But don’t overdo it!

“I find that many patients are over-cleansing, over-exfoliating or using cleansers that are not appropriate for their skin type and this is causing excess dryness,” she added. “Using a more mild cleanser can help tremendously in the battle against dryness.”

Our dermatologist-recommended favorite? CeraVe’s Hydrating Cleanser Bar.

It may also help to reconsider what you’re washing with when the weather changes. Dr. Rosemarie Ingleton, Medical Director of Ingleton Dermatology, adds that as the temperatures go up, your routine should become “less heavy.”

“Switch from more hydrating cleaners and oils to foamy, gel-based cleaners” and to “a lighter weight daily moisturizer,” she advises. And if you’ve been skimping on the SPF don’t—you’ll definitely need it when the sun is back in these streets.

Keeping Up With "Wash Day" Is Important, Too.

Otherwise, you may end up with a condition called seborrheic dermatitis, which often appears on the scalp as a result of product buildup, but can also show up in skin folds such as behind the ears, under the breasts, etc.

“A dry, itchy and flaking scalp is very common in the winter and becomes more common as the frequency of washing the hair decreases,” Cook-Bolden tells Vixen. “When seborrheic dermatitis presents, it’s a common belief that applying scalp lotions, gels or pomades will help to treat the condition and is indeed sometimes helpful in temporarily soothing the itching and irritation.

However, as these products build up on the scalp, they can actually worsen the inflammation and overall worsen seborrheic dermatitis.”

So keep up with your hair care regimen, and if you do find yourself with a case of the seborrheic itchies, don’t hesitate to reach out to your dermatologist for an anti-inflammatory treatment.

Ceramides & Antioxidants Are Your Friends.

If you’re not familiar with ceramides and their superpowers, now’s the time to get familiar. Why? Because they can be extremely healing for desiccated skin.

As Atlanta board-certified dermatologist Dr. Tiffany Clay explains, ceramides are fats in the surface of the skin. When added to skin care products, they not only help your skin retain moisture, but they also give your skin a boost after being exposed to the elements like pollution and icy wind.

In terms of what to use, you’ll want to look for products described as “non-comedogenic,” which means a product is less likely to clog your pores. Additionally, products containing hyaluronic acid (HA) are also a win because of its ability to attract and hold water at the surface of the skin.

“I typically recommend patients keep their antioxidant serum/lotion (vitamin C) and their retinol on board no matter the season,” Clay also notes. “Over- the- counter retinols and prescription retinoids are vitamin A derived medications that most people use in a topical form.”

And they’re a major win-win. Using retinols/retinoids short term will help exfoliate your skin and give you that Kelly Rowland glow. Their long-term use helps to promote collagen production in the skin, minimizing fine lines and decreasing excess melanin production, which will even your complexion, reduce hyperpigmentation, and help reduce photo-damage.

As for vitamin C, look at it as SPF’s best friend.

“Vitamin C is an antioxidant that, when applied topically in combination with daily sun protection, decreases free-radical damage from ultraviolet exposure,” Clay shares.

Those rays don’t stand a chance.

Exfoliate, But Make It Gentle.

It may be tempting to grab the St. Ives but don’t. Instead, Clay suggests, get acquainted with chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandolin acid, or salicylic acid.

These strong but gentle powerhouses typically come labeled as AHAs and BHAs (alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid) and are way less harsh on the skin. Those over-the-counter scrubs you’re used to? They tend to leave scrapes and cuts on the skin, which can lead to inflammation and—you guessed it—hyperpigmentation... and we ain’t ask for all’at.

If you do decide to use a traditional scrub, Ingleton suggests trying Dove’s Exfoliating Body Scrub.

“This will help to slough away dry, dead cells on the surface and also hydrate/moisturize the skin in the process,” she says. “Apply a hydrating body lotion after doing the scrub.”

But again, be gentle!

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Kylie Jenner attends the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)

Kylie Jenner Doubles Down On Being Crowned A "Self Made" Billionaire

The premise of "self-made" and its interpretation when it comes to privileged celebrities has been a huge debate. When Kylie Jenner was named Forbes' youngest self-made billionaire, debates were raised due to her timeline in the limelight and her wealthy family. The 21-year-old defended her title, explaining how she doesn't fall into any ofter category.

"There’s really no other word to use other than self-made because that is the truth," she said in Q&A with Interview Magazine's German edition. "That is the category that I fall under," she started.

She acknowledged how her fan base equated to her success but refuted claims that she used her family's money to jump-start her wildly successful Kylie Cosmetics line.

"Although, I am a special case because before I started Kylie Cosmetics, I had a huge platform and lots of fans. I did not get money from my parents past the age of 15. I used 100 percent of my own money to start the company, not a dime in my bank account is inherited… and I am very proud of that."

Earlier this month (March 5) the mother-of-one officially surpassed Mark Zuckerberg as the youngest person to reach billionaire status, when Kylie Cosmetics hit a billion dollars in revenue.

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'Boomerang' Episode 7 Recap: Family Matters And Pride

Bryson and Simone are a thing, like for real for real. They can’t keep their hands (or tongues) off of one another. As the two of them get steamy in the jacuzzi, a sexually riled up Simone tells her new beau that she wants to treat his face like a bean bag. They are in it, y’all. There’s just one problem — they may be half-brother and sister (insert vomit emoji here). The excitement of finally landing the girl of his dreams is shut down when he reveals that his mother, Jacqueline, informed him that Marcus Graham may be his papa. (Wait. Does that mean Marcus cheated on Angela back in the day? Regardless, what a way to ruin a mood.)

As they wait for the DNA test results, Simone and Bryson still try to be business as usual, you know, chillin’ like they used to. Speaking of business, Bryson is all that. Ari may be his boy and all, but when it comes to directing Tia’s music video, Bryson wants an Italian dude to shoot it instead. He just doesn’t believe Ari can execute. All great directors have vision and through Bryson’s eyes, Ari has none. Simone can’t help but agree. It’s obvious that Tia and her bae are not at all pleased with the video production of her single. Bro gotsta go. Tia has never been one to hold back and in a fit of frustration, she does what Simone couldn’t verbalize; she fires Ari.

Like the “big bad boss” he is, Bryson harshly tells Ari that not only will he basically fail at being a producer, but people will notice that he doesn’t belong here. Hold up. Are we sure Bryson and Ari are friends? Tough love is understandable but to completely obliterate the dreams of someone you’ve been rocking with? That’s foul. Unlike Ari, Bryson knows that he was brought up with the keys and basically helped himself to whatever role he wanted in the industry, a luxury he can afford to extend. Why not help your friend out now even with a little guidance knowing his career aspirations?

Bryson may be able to but Simone is not willing to give up on Ari just yet. She lets Ari collaborate Bryson’s pick, Shayan, who is also seemingly having a hard time capturing dope shots. A conversation with Simone about perfecting his craft leaves Ari somewhat disappointed but open to the constructive criticism.

While enjoying the Atlanta Black Pride festivities, an old filing recognizes Ari and waves him down. In catching up, the discussion quickly takes a turn to sexual orientation labels with a judgemental tone and Ari is not having it. Sure, while he was with her, he liked women but sometimes he’d rather be with a man. “Bisexual,” “Gay,” call it whatever, he just likes who he likes, refuses to be put in a box, and there’s nothing wrong with that. What is not about to happen is him being judged by a woman with five kids and three baby favas. Yikes.

That frustration instantly births inspiration. Instead of dryly shooting Tia performing with Pride weekend just happening around her, Ari points out how the world needs to see all black people not caring about what anyone has to say about them, especially when the world includes women rocking $12 jewelry. Sashayers, milly-rockers, and twerkers galore, the video shines on the culture, highlighting Kings and Queens of all shades, ages, genders, and sexualities. It’s a good time. Even Bryson can give up his props and that lead director credit to Ari. You see, Bryson? You gotta have a little faith like David always has.

Speaking of our fave pastor, unlike many Baptist churches, it’s amazing to see that David embraces and participates in the Atlanta Black Pride weekend. With the help of Crystal, David is preaching a message of loving who you are and loving others. His sermon last week no doubt spoke to the soul but if you recall, Crystal did notice that a lovely lady attended the service moreso for David and less so for Jesus. That obviously triggered something. Crystal and David may not have been able to work out their marriage but the attraction is absolutely still there. Could it be one-sided though?

You didn’t think we forgot about Bryson and Simone, did you? It should be noted that for his entire life, all Bryson ever wanted was to be like Marcus Graham, but not like this. David is right: be careful what you pray for. No matter the outcome of the paternity test, Simone and Bryson will undoubtedly be in one another’s life (maybe less like Whitley and Dwayne and more like Denise and Theo).

Well, folks, the results are in (insert Maury voice). In the case of Bryson J. Broyer, Marcus, you are NOT the father! But, you may still have some ‘splaining to do. Now that they are officially not related, Simone can finally go ahead and have that seat. We know, sis has been tired all day. Ow!

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