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Courtesy of Focus Features

'Loving' Actress Ruth Negga Dissects Mildred Loving And Her Quest For Equality

Actress Ruth Negga dissects the Jeff Nichols directed film Loving, in which a black woman and white man changed the course of American history.

On an oddly warm November day in New York City, the Gemma Restaurant at the Bowery Hotel was patroned by a few. A mother of two holding her son's hand and scolding her pre-teen daughter engulfed in her cell phone as she nearly walked into a bar stool was about as about as busy as the Italian restaurant got during the mid-day. The morning staff was cleaning up as the night staff began stocking glasses, cutlery and plates for the evening rush.

Press had begun for the Jeff Nichols directed film Loving, a romantic drama about interracial Virginia couple Richard and Mildred Loving who were wed in D.C. and began building their life back in the country. Their marriage soon made its way to the sheriff resulting in the couple's arrest. Richard, a white man, was able to make bail the next morning. Mildred, a pregnant 19-year-old however, stayed in prison a few days. To avoid jail time, the court in Central Point, Va., banished the couple to D.C and ordered them never to return for 25 years.

From there, the film follows the couple as their civil rights case, Loving. v. Virginia, makes its way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of their right to marry.  Joel Egerton and Ruth Negga take on the emotionally complex task of playing Richard and Mildred. Despite his tough demeanor, it was Richard who was often paralyzed by fear for himself and his family. Mildred however, continued to fight. Mildred's approach, similarly to her personality, was quiet yet steady. She never made a fuss, but it was her unrelenting zeal to protect her husband and children that motivated her to write a letter to then Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who referred her to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which would later change history.

Months removed from the role she said she took two years preparing for, Ruth Negga, an Ethiopian and Irish actress walks into the Gemma Restaurant main dinning room holding a plate full of lettuce, tomato and chicken. It was the 34-year-old's first meal for the day. Negga, although 5-foot-3-inches has a much taller and grander personality. Bold in her speech, and matter-of-fact in her responses, Negga admits she's more reactive than the demure Mildred, and has a bit more fire. We sat for 15 minutes or so, and chatted about the film's intricacies and reveal despite the positive outcome, Mildred's true intentions was to keep her family together. Challenging the United States government and winning, well that was just the cherry on top.

Vibe: How did you become Mildred?
Ruth Negga: I did my work, I did my homework I studied her. I studied how she moved, how she walked, her dialect, her vocal intonation and we had this archive of footage that was valuable and in my mind I put it in the gaps. I think when you spend enough time with someone you sort of anticipate their differences. Working with Jeff [Nichols] and Joe [Edgerton] I got to see what they would be when the cameras roll, but I think it’s also an evolution of a human being that starts off as a very young girl and she’s telling [Richard] that she’s pregnant. I mean, It’s a normal response.

In the film, it was Mildred who was more welcoming of the media in regards to getting their story out. Richard was not.
Well he was desperately shy, they both were inherently shy and I think that neither of them, he definitely didn’t want media attention. She saw it as a way to attain what they both wanted eventually. I don’t think she really knew how, but it was small steps of moving in the right direction with raising their family and living where they wanted to and that was the most important thing for Mildred. She didn’t set out to be an activist. She didn’t set out to invalidate the American Constitution, yet those are things that happened and I’m sure she’s glad of it. But how brave would you have been, or I have been to do that? I think if she would’ve seen it in those big terms it would’ve been overwhelming.

Mildred later writes a letter to then Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Kennedy refers her to the ACLU. What do you think she would've done if Kennedy never responded to her letter?
Thats a good question. I think she would have found her way to the ACLU anyway. I think the letter was a turning point in her life when she became committed.

You think the letter is when she became committed, and not when her son got hit by the car in D.C?
Oh no, I think that was when she was going to leave D.C. Those are two different things but they're parallel. She was going to move back home to Virginia, but she became committed to pursue law when her friend said 'You need to get yourself some civil rights.' It was many different moments but I think that if her son didn’t get hit by a car, she was moving [back to Virginia] and she didn’t care. I think the lesson is her pursuing justice, and I think she would’ve found another lane, or another avenue because you have to remember she wrote another letter saying 'Please don’t forget this.' So that’s a woman who’s not letting this go.

How do you think the film will speak to the social media generation that allegedly doesn't believe in relationships?
I hope it speaks to them the same way it will speak to any human being. I think what this film is saying is we are capable of great kindness towards one another. We're capable of great perseverance and we are obsessed with being sane, but what’s wrong with being equally different? I don’t really understand that? It doesn’t mean that we aren’t equal and I’m not saying separately that’s a completely different thing, but I’m saying that differences are there to make us more interesting. Differences are there to make us more intriguing to one another. Differences are there to be celebrated and I think that this film is just another reminder of that.

There's a scene in the film where Mildred and Richard travel back to Virginia to have their baby. Richard goes outside on the porch and his mother says 'Why did you have to marry that girl? You knew better.' Even though white and black people lived well together in Central Point, that part in the film was jarring.
..and Garnett [Ruth’s sister] says ‘You knew what would happen?. Why’d you take her there?’ It’s very important that Jeff Nichols wanted viewers to know that this just wasn’t an upset of the white community, it was both communities and both would’ve seen this as why would you bother? Richard’s friend said ‘Why don’t you just divorce her?' They didn’t understand why would you create any friction? Why would you want to upset what we have because all you’re doing is bringing tension and I don’t think that comes from a place of hatred or racism. I think it comes from community values. We’ve been doing it for this long, why would you bring any hassle into our community? I’m sure there were people who were disappointed, but Mildred and Richard wanted to get married and they wanted to legitimately be on their own, and for their children.

There's also a part in the film where Richard is at the bar with some of Mildred's brothers and the conversation around the table was Richard now knows what its like to be black. How do you think Mildred internalized or felt for Richard's pain?
I think there’s a tradition for black women in those communities that women had to mind their communities, their children and their men, and when you take away a man’s way to provide for his family, or you take away his pride in himself and his relationship, I feel that sometimes women's instinct is to give that back. I think they support their men from that sense and I think she’s doing the same. You see his impression at the jail. He says ‘That’s not right. That’s not fair’ What could he do? And that’s what Will’s character is saying. ‘Now you know what it’s like when you can’t protect your family.’I think that Mildred is just like a lot of women at that time. She’s representing a lot of black women at that and that’s their job is to give back that strength to their men in the community, which I find fascinating.

Has you definition of love changed from making this film?
I don’t believe in the definition of love. I don’t believe you can really define that, It’s too tangible. I think you know it when you see it and I think what [Richard and Mildred] do prove is that it can be such a tangible thing. It’s a very physical thing feeling love for someone. I don’t mean just falling in love and being attracted to someone, I mean really wanting the best for them and wanting to care for them and their respect and you see that in the documentary “The Loving Story: Home” For me they are the epitomes of love.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Is Expected To Make $64 Million Opening Weekend

Thanks to Us, Jordan Peele has another blockbuster on his hands. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the highly-anticipated horror flick starring Lupita Nyong’o, Winston Duke, Shahadi Wright Joseph and Evan Alex, is expected to have a $64 million opening weekend at the domestic box office.

Peele’s sophomore horror film earned an impressive $7.4 million on Thursday (March 21) night previews, and is forecasted to take in about $27 million from Friday sales. The film is also on pace to knock Captain Marvel out of the No. 1 spot at the box office.

Once final numbers are tallied, Us will likely snatch the third-best opening weekend record for an R-rated horror film behind It, which brought in a whopping $123.4 million, followed by Halloween’s $76.2 million opening weekend last year.

Aside from rave reviews and a genius promo run that included simultaneous screenings in major media markets, Us earned a 95 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film, set in the mid-1980s centers around a family of four who set off on a vacation that finds them confronting some familiar faces.

Peele recently spoke to VIBE about casting Duke (our April 2019 cover star) in the role of patriarch, Gabe Wilson. “I have to have somebody voice what the audience was saying,” he said. “In the case of Get Out, it’s Rod, like, ‘How have you not left yet?’ [In Us], Winston is largely that voice. There’s one moment where Lupita [Nyong’o] takes a step into the unknown, where black people [will think], ‘I don’t know.’ But to have Winston say, ‘Aaaand she left. Your mother just walked out of the car.’ That’s all we need.”

Duke also opened up about the intricacies of his character. “His function isn’t to see through the veil. His function is to tell the absolute truth how he sees it,” explained the 32-year-old actor. “He’s sometimes there to say the things that other people don’t want to say, but he’s also there to make fun of things to keep it from not getting too heavy, even though it’s real. That was my job. [Peele] respected that. I like to lean into functions. If I’m going to be your antagonist, I’m gonna really push you. If I’m gonna be your clown, funny guy, I’m gonna do that.”

Click here to read VIBE’s April 2019 cover story.

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Eunetta T. Boone, TV Producer, Writer And ‘One On One’ Creator, Dead At 63

Eunetta T. Boone, veteran television producer and writer, creator of sitcoms One on One and Cuts, and showrunner of Raven’s Home, died Wednesday (March 20), Deadline reports.

Boone died of an apparent hear attack in her home. She was 63.

Boone’s long list of writing, production and story-editing credits include Living Single, My Wife and Kids, The Hughleys, The Parent ‘Hood, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and Lush Life, the latter of which co-starred Fresh Prince actress Karyn Parsons. Boone also taught screenwriting at UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, and wrote the film Who Is Doris Payne? about the infamous elderly jewel thief.

Last November, Boone signed on as showrunner and executive producer of the Disney Channel’s That’s So Raven spinoff, Raven’s Home. Production on the sitcom has been shut down for the rest of the week in wake of Boone's death. Series star Raven Symone posted a tribute to Boone on Instagram Thursday (March 21).

“My heart is heavy following the loss, of RH EP, Eunetta Boone,” she wrote. “Eunetta was a pioneer and an inspiration to everyone she met. She was a masterful story teller, an empathetic leader, and a beacon of light to so many. Sending love and my deepest sympathies to Eunetta’s family and friends and all who knew and loved her. She will be missed. Thanks for everything Eunetta.”

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My heart is heavy following the loss, of RH EP, Eunetta Boone. Eunetta was a pioneer and an inspiration to everyone she met. She was a masterful story teller, an empathetic leader, and a beacon of light to so many. Sending love and my deepest sympathies to Eunetta’s family and friends and all who knew and loved her. She will be missed. Thanks for everything Eunetta.

A post shared by Raven-Symoné (@ravensymone) on Mar 21, 2019 at 2:41pm PDT

The Disney Channel released a statement praising Boone for her storytelling and leadership. “She did so well what she enjoyed most — mentoring creative talent,” the network said in a statement, per The Wrap. “Eunetta will be dearly missed and fondly remembered by everyone who knew her. All of us at Disney Channel grieve her passing and send our deepest condolences to her family, friends and colleagues.”

Boone earned a journalism degree from the University of Maryland, and a Masters from Columba University. She began her career as a sports writer in Baltimore, and became the first black women to cover sports in the city, as well as one of a few black women sports writers in the nation to work for a major outlet.

See more dedications to Boone below and watch the video above for some of her writing tips.

Eunetta Boone. One of our vets. You have seen her work on television comedies from “My Wife and Kids” and “The Hughleys” to “One on One” and “Living Single.” She worked as a screenwriting instructor at UCLA Extension in between gigs. Rest well, sweet lady. Thanks for the laughs. pic.twitter.com/741tpIL4a5

— Ava DuVernay (@ava) March 21, 2019

She was a few of the black female showrunners during the 80’s & 90’s..once The UPN network shut down it was hard to get a show on the air..#RIP & thanks for your creativity.. Eunetta T. Boone Dies: ‘One On One’ Creator, ‘Raven’s Home’ Showrunner https://t.co/6zTGyEmJGR

— Loni Love (@LoniLove) March 21, 2019

Eunetta was a pioneer in the entertainment industry. https://t.co/YakqIdOkV5

— Shaun Robinson (@shaunrobinson) March 21, 2019

RIP Eunetta T. Boone. pic.twitter.com/yjo1BP3Jfh

— The Black List (@theblcklst) March 21, 2019

My cousin Eunetta T. Boone created the shows "One on One" and "Cuts" and was the first person to welcome me to LA and showed me Hollywood! She was such a good person and genuine soul. Smh. #RIPEunetta

— DJ Steph Floss (@djstephfloss) March 21, 2019

I'm very sad to learn about the passing of Eunetta Boone. When @JohnDBeckTV and I were on our very first writing staff (The Hughleys), Eunetta went out of her way to teach us how to behave in room. I don't think she would call herself a mentor, but I will.

— Ron Hart (@Scatter) March 21, 2019

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‘American Soul’ Episode 8 Recap: The Crossroads

Tessa is back, and not only do we finally get the tea on her backstory, but it’s also a full tea party.

Still focused on reclaiming her dance career before she’s too old, Tessa prepares for an audition and comes face to face with her former best friend and former fiancé—the very people who drove her away from dance years ago. We learn that she didn’t just lose her dance career, she lost an entire life—including a baby. And then, she met Patrick. Over the course of the episode, Tessa has long overdue conversations with Prescott, her former fiancé, and Evelyn (Nikeva Stapleton), her former friend. Even though Evelyn played Tessa back in the day, she drops some gems and asks her if she’s really moving forward, or trying to hold on to what was. Tessa ponders the question and, in response, delivers a final audition routine she created during her old dance life in Germany, updated with moves influenced by the Soul Train Gang—a reflection of her new life. After finally having an honest, vulnerable conversation with Patrick, it seems Tessa is ready to genuinely move forward, whatever that may mean.

JT’s brothers in the Continuous Revolution in Progress offer him a chance to “prove (his) worth,” after Detective Lorraine set him up to look like a snitch (which we still don’t understand). Of course, that means participating in another illegal endeavor. We really don’t like Reggie, nor can we understand why JT feels such a staunch loyalty to him, but peer pressure—and thinly veiled threats—are real.

When JT gets “home,” he faces another course-altering decision. After finding a random street character holding his little sister while his mom is in a mid-drug nod, JT finally makes the difficult call to have her committed. We’d be relieved and excited about what this means for him and his little sister if he hadn’t just become more deeply entangled with Reggie and the CRIPS.

The Clarke siblings are ready to assert their independence. Kendall is taking his John Denver albums and moving out (with Flo? Already?); Simone is bucking up to her mom about JT (Simone, your mama might be right on this one); and Encore gets a surprise half-off deal at the studio to record their demo. We owe JT—who we realize is not a real person—an apology for assuming he was going to lose the studio money. He had it in his sock. Smart man. But holding the money might be the only role JT plays in Encore’s recording. While the Clarke siblings are stanning over Lionel Richie and getting ready to go in the booth, JT is at the hospital with his mom. We have a feeling his path will only take him further away from both Kendall and Simone for the last two episodes of the season.

Brianne comes face-to-face with the old life and dream she buried out of necessity for the life she chose to have with Joseph. At the beginning of the season, Joseph mentioned Brianne’s former singing career to Simone, and Simone was shocked even as her mother deflected. But she clearly never let it go—seeing a reminder of her singing days sends Brianne into a rage. Not because something terrible happened (that we know of, yet), but because she’s still so hurt over sacrificing such a big piece of herself. When Nate asks her if she wants to cut the visit to San Diego and her brother’s nightclub short, she says she needs to do something first. Is Brianne going to let the music back in?

Don already made one choice: Soul Train over his family. Now, he faces a fight for the show to survive against Dick Clark’s Soul Show, which airs on ABC, one of Don’s essential syndication partners. The next decision is whether to trust the protest and boycott methods suggested by his friend Conrad Johnson (Todd Anthony Manaigo) or take a more ruthless route with Gerald. Frustrated when the civil course doesn’t seem to be working quickly enough, Don lets Gerald off the leash to execute an alternate plan. But when he realizes Gerald’s tactic—placing plants at the Soul Show protest to start a fight—Don’s bothered. Especially when Conrad’s method ends up yielding results. Don will always be in conflict because he’s rarely comfortable with his decisions. When he operates in the straight and narrow, he feels like he’s being taken advantage of; when he plays dirty, he worries about his public image. When Don tries to detach himself from Gerald’s antics, Gerald checks him. He’s already peeped Don’s struggle between being the respectable negro and being a street dude when the situation requires. “It ain’t like you didn’t know, you just chose not to.”

Don’s hot-and-heavy relationship with Ilsa has fizzled out, Tessa’s quit, Brooks doesn’t see the big deal about a competitive show, and Gerald’s idea of being supportive is sketchy at best, highly illegal at worst. Don has presumably slayed the Hollywood dragons that tried to take him down and should feel victorious. Soul Train is a hit, is officially greenlit for a second season, and is still his. But Don’s realizing he doesn’t have true, close allies around him (Clarence Avant once said of Cornelius in real life that you could fit all his friends in a phone booth, and still have room). Delores is not only ignoring his phone calls—more phone calls than we’ve seen him make the entire season—she’s busy with plans that involve separate bank accounts. Don calls his wife one more time to plead for their marriage on the brand new answering machine he bought her. As he hangs up and the episode closes, he collapses—an early glimpse of the brain trauma that plagued him for the remainder of this life.

What the episode got right: Conrad “CJ” Johnson represents young Jesse Jackson, who partnered with the “Godfather of Black Music,” Clarence Avant, in successfully pressuring ABC to take Clark’s Soul Unlimited off the air.

What we could have done without: The scene with Gladys and Don in the lounge. While it was great to see Kelly Rowland reprise her role as Gladys Knight, and we recognize that she’s supposed to serve as some kind of conscious/guide/good luck charm/something for Don, that conversation didn’t move the plot forward in any real way.

What we absolutely don’t believe: That a black mother in the 1970s—the old school black mama prototype—let somebody call her daughter an “uppity b**ch,” then let the same daughter get in her face and slam doors in her house without some hands flying, somebody getting cursed out, or that door coming off the hinges.

What we don’t understand: The relationship between Brianne and Private Nate Barker. He’s fine and all, but what’s his purpose? Maybe there’s more to come in the next episodes.

We’re excited to learn more about Brianne Clarke in the next episode; she’s been an underutilized character so far. There’s a lot to cover, still, in the remaining two shows of the season: Is Simone going to pursue a career in NY? Is JT going to get his foolish self arrested or worse? Is Kendall going to end up with another baby he can’t support? (We feel like Flo has more sense than that, thankfully). Is Brianne going to get it poppin’ with Nate? Is Don going to somehow end up on Gerald’s bad side? We do know Don is getting a divorce, we just don’t know when. Let’s see what happens next.

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