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Vixen Exclusive: Jodi Lyn O'Keefe Talks 'Hit the Floor' and Lessons Learned from Hollywood

Jodi Lyn O'Keefe has quite the resume. Her first gigs were roles in 90s series Another World and Nash Bridges. Shortly after, she played an unforgettable role of a snarky Taylor Vaughn in the cult teen classic She's All That alongside Freddie Prinze Jr in 1999. Since then, Jodi has flexed her acting skills on plenty television shows and films including Charmed, Halloween H20, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, and Prison Break just to name a few.

Today she plays Lionel Davenport, a hell-raising A-list actress and ex-wife of Pete Davenport on VH1’s popular series Hit the Floor. In other words, a boss. Unlike the mean-girl characters she is known for playing, Jodi Lyn is one of the sweetest and humblest entertainers around. Last week, she chopped it up with VIBE Vixen to give us some insight on Lionel, what Hollywood has taught her over the past two decades, and what its like behind the scenes of Hit The Floor.

Photo Credit: VH1, Tony Donaldson, Instagram

Jodi Lynn O'Keefe

VIBE Vixen: How do you feel about joining the cast of Hit the Floor?

Jodi: I feel really lucky, it's been a really great experience for me. I was nervous at first because the cast has already been together for a year and they have such great camaraderie, so it's hard to be the new guy. However, they welcomed me with open arms and made me feel comfortable immediately. Gosh, I just had such a blast with them.

How has Lionel’s addition to the cast shaken up the show?

Well, an estranged wife will shake up anything. I think it just adds a little bit more drama to Pete’s already dramatic life. There is finally a face to Lionel; we heard about her in the past now here she is in the flesh. It's out of sight, out of mind but then all of a sudden your estranged wife shows up on your doorstep again.

She recently revealed that she wants Pete back after leaving him. Have you ever had a similar experience where you feel you made a mistake in leaving someone?

I mean, I made tons of mistakes. Who hasn’t? Yeah, it's happened to me in the past and the things that I’ve learned is that the time to walk away is when you really want to walk away. It's better not to play any games.

Are there any similarities between you and your character?

Well I am non-confrontational to a fault so there’s not that much similarity but it is definitely fun to walk around in her shoes because she’s okay with confrontation. She’s strutting her stuff to the world but I’m a little bit more shy than Lionel, let’s say that.

What do you think are Lionel’s best and worst personality traits?

Her best personality traits are—well, she loves her husband very deeply and I think thats one of her best personality traits. I think her worst personality trait is that she will get whatever she wants by any means necessary. She is a little ruthless [laughs].

Tell me something that we don’t know about her.

I wish I could tell you but I can’t give you any spoilers [laughs] so I think the things that you don’t know about Lionel are gonna be revealed eventually.

So we definitely have to stay tuned then.

Yes, please!

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How's the on-set chemistry of Hit the Floor?

It's great. Everybody is so happy to be there everyday and everyone loves their job so much that it makes for a really comfortable atmosphere. You come in, in the morning, and there’s no stopping everybody’s sunshine. Everyone is just glad to be there and happy to be a part of this show. For example, if you go to work and something is going wrong in your life and you arrive, everyone is so happy to be there that all of a sudden you just get wrapped up in everyone else’s good news. It's a pleasure, really.

What’s your favorite part of shooting?

Goofing around in the hair and makeup trailer before we start shooting.

Of course, that’s always fun.

The girls and I laugh all morning long before we get ready.

So I did some research and it turns out that you are also a licensed bounty hunter. Why bounty hunting?

[Laughs] A girlfriend and I went to take couple courses in L.A. to see if we can do it in real life because we do so much stunt work together and so we were just trying it out to see what would happen; to see if we could actually do it so we’re both pre-licensed. We only have a couple more hours of training to become licensed but it made me giggle so I put it on my twitter page.

JodiLynHeadshot

LESSONS I LEARNED FROM… Success.

Success is work hard and give 100% every single day because it will leave as quickly as it came.

LESSONS I LEARNED FROM… Hollywood.

Hollywood? [Laughs] Keep some of your personal life to yourself otherwise you won’t have one.

LESSONS I LEARNED FROM… a co-star or fellow seasoned actress.

Gosh, I’ve learned so many lessons from my co-stars that it's unbelievable. I learned a lesson without even realizing I learned it just by looking at someone’s actions—and this person shall remain nameless—but I learned not to complain. I have so much to be grateful for so there is no reason to complain.

Are there any actresses in particular, legends specifically, from the past or present that you look up to?

There’s so many oh my god. There’s so many talented and amazing people in my business that it blows my mind. I guess recently I got the chance to meet Jackie Chan and that is someone that I look up to. I can’t even begin to tell you how much! That man lives and breathes giving back. He built 26 schools in China for children and for every dollar that is donated to him for charity he doubles it. His whole life is living, breathing and making the world a better place for kids. He said that he has been helped so much in his life that he just wants to give back and it moved me to tears when I heard his life story. He is a phenomenal man; he is so generous, so kind, and so loving to every single person that he meets. So I am really looking up to him the most right now.

Any last thoughts?

I just feel so grateful and happy to be a part of all this and I’m looking forward to feedback for the rest of the year. I look forward to episodes every Monday night with the cast, seeing live tweets and I love to get the instant feedback from everybody. It's a whole new thing for me. I have never been a big part of social media and now I have been involved with it with the cast every Monday and it's been so cool to hear what everyone has to say right there on the spot.

Awesome. It was great speaking with you, Jodi, and I will be looking forward to watching the rest of the season.

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

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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.

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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.

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