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'Behind The Cam' Shows A More Intimate Side Of Wiz Khalifa And His Journey To Stardom

You'll see more of who Cameron Thomaz really is in his new documentary, Behind The Cam.

Inside Snoop Dogg’s compound in Inglewood, California, puffs of marijuana smoke bubble across the air in a screening room where Wiz Khalifa’s new docu-series, Behind The Cam (its title pays homage to the rapper’s first name, Cameron) gets ready to illuminate the screen. On this balmy Wednesday evening, dozens of music industry folks and journalists are holding space over tacos and cocktails to get a first-look at Wiz in rare form.

Apple Music’s five-part mini-series showcases the Pittsburgh native’s most intimate moments, like sending his son Sebastian to school on a yellow bus as he sweetly reminds him to “watch his glasses” throughout the day. Aside from his parental duties, there are also interviews with his parents and close friends. His mom, nicknamed “Peachie,” described her grandson Sebastian as a mirror image of her son when he was a child. The testament was highlighted with adorable home videos of the “This Plane” rapper as a kid. The resemblance is striking—both physical and personality wise.

Behind The Cam provides viewers a deeper insight into Wiz’s journey to superstardom. At 16, he landed a job at a local recording studio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania while still in high school. In those early days, his name was Wizdom. By 19, he was signed to Warner Music Group and released the ubiquitous “Say Yeah.” Although the record deal turned sour, it fueled the 31-year-old rapper to work harder on his craft and to maintain a solid fan based on the strength of his buzz. He went on tour, did meet and greets and visited every store that would have him for an appearance.

His relentless attitude eventually paid off. In September 2010, “Black And Yellow” debuted to soaring praise and topped the Hot 100 Billboard chart at No. 1 in February 2011. The rest, as they say, is history. While showcasing his ascension, Wiz also uses his platform to uplift other creators. While hosting a producer competition, Wiz gave an overzealous waiter at swanky restaurant Tao, a chance to make beats. Through helping others, the father-of-one offers a bit of introspection when he admits that having his son with Amber Rose tremendously changed him and feels obligated to take better care of himself.

To encourage that energy, Wiz feels humbled by his parents’ praise throughout the documentary. “It was weird because I’m not used to hearing my parents talk about me, we just talk about everyday stuff,” he said after the screening. “It made me really appreciate their perspective and their point of view.”

While it’s eye-opening to see a candid view of Wiz’s world, it wasn’t always easy for him to be transparent on camera. “The process was really different for me because I’m used to doing interviews and not really giving a f**k about them,” he gushed. “It’s usually someone prying on you or trying to get you to say some sh*t that you didn’t even want to say.”

“Anyone who really knows me knows it takes a second to pull back the layers to really get to see who I really am,” he continued. “That’s what the interviewing process was like—it took about two interviews to really get comfortable, but that’s just me, I don’t let people straight in.”

Taylor Gang and Smac Media’s ‘Behind The Cam’ is now available on Apple Music.

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Jada Pinkett Smith In Talks To Reprise 'Matrix' Role

Earlier this year, it was announced that The Matrix would return for a fourth storyline. Although a release date has yet to be announced, box office names like Keanu Reeves, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Carrie-Anne Moss, and now Jada Pinkett Smith have been attached to the franchise's upcoming installment.

According to Deadline, Pinkett Smith may step into her previous role of Niobe from the films The Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions. Her agent is allegedly in negotiations with the movie's producers so it's not set in stone as of yet, but fans of the franchise hope to witness Pinkett Smith's appearance on screen. The Matrix premiered in 1999, depicting a sci-fi story of a battle between humans and machines.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Pinkett Smith said her husband and fellow actor, Will Smith, auditioned for the lead role of Neo (played by Reeves). “I knew it would be revolutionary,” she said. He ultimately passed on the character, stating "I probably would have messed The Matrix up. I would have ruined it, so I did y’all a favor.”

The mother-of-two auditioned for Trinity but the role ended up going to Moss. However, the movie's visionaries Lana and Lilly Wachowski wrote Niobe with Pinkett Smith in mind. “I thought Carrie-Anne was the perfect Trinity, and there was no way I could do what she did,” she said. “And that’s the only time in my career I’ve said that about losing a role.”

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Zoe Kravitz Lands Catwoman Role In 'Batman'

Zoe Kravitz is the latest bombshell to become Catwoman. The 30-year-old will play Selina Kyle a.k.a. Catwoman alongside Batman (Robert Pattinson), CNN reports.

This new role is a major milestone for Kravitz, who’s most known for her role as Bonnie Carlson on HBO’s Big Little Lies. The actress was congratulated on her new role by her step-father, Aquaman actor Jason Momoa on Instagram.

For Kravitz, it’s always been important to make her presence known in Hollywood outside her parents' influence on the business (her father is Lenny Kravitz and her mother is Lisa Bonet). To get these coveted roles, she admits to, ironically, having to work harder than her counterparts just to prove her success isn’t just a product of nepotism.

 

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I’m so proud of u zozo bear. On and off screen OHANA. DC WB ohana Lola and Wolfies big sister is CAT WOMAN😍😍😍 Unbelievable so freaking stoked. Your going to have so much fun Aloha P bear

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“If I don’t have [the next] job lined up, I get nervous,” she told Elle. “It’s irrational, maybe. But also good. When I was in high school, if a girl didn’t like me, the first thing she’d say was, 'You think you’re so cool because of your parents.' That carries into later life, like, 'Oh, you just got this part because your parents are this and that.'

It’s important to acknowledge that I got in the door easier because of them. Some kids work their whole lives and they can’t even get an agent to call them back. That part was handed to me,” she continued. “People are always going to think that maybe you are who you are because of your family. So it’s my responsibility to work harder.”

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How 'My Brother And Me' Resonated With A Generation Of Young Black Men

In terms of cultural impact and influence, the '90s ranks as one of the defining decades for black entertainment of the past century. This proves particularly true in the realm of television, with a number of landmark programs debuting that reflected the life and times of blacks in the urban community and beyond. While the '80s produced groundbreaking sitcoms like The Cosby Show, A Different World, Family Matters, 227, Amen, and Frank's Place, all of which featured predominantly black casts, these shows were few and far in between.

However, the arrival of a new decade coincided with an influx of programs starring black leads, with shows like Martin, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Living Single, Hangin with Mr. Cooper, Roc, Thea and South Central all making their debut. While these shows were hits across various age groups, they all starred and revolved around actors of age, in some form or fashion. One of the first programs to divert from this formula and place the focus squarely on adolescents was My Brother and Me, a sitcom that often gets overlooked when listing the pivotal shows of its era.

Making its debut on October 15, 1994, My Brother and Me was among the first live-action series to air on Nickelodeon and the first to feature a predominantly black cast. Created by Ilunga Adell and Calvin Brown Jr., and directed by Arlando Smith and Adam Weissman, the show centers around brothers Alfred "Alfie" Parker and Derek "Dee-Dee" Parker, the two youngest children of parents Jennifer (Karen E. Fraction) and Roger Parker (Jim R. Coleman) who experience the typical growing pains of pre-pubescent young men that are coming of age.

Additional core cast members include Alfie and Dee-Dee's older sister Melanie Parker (Aisling Sistrunk),, Alfie's best friend Milton "Goo" Berry (Jimmy Lee Newman, Jr.) who has an infatuation with Melanie, Melanie's best friend and Donnell's older sister Dionne Wilburn (Amanda Seales), Dee-Dee's best friend and Dionne’s younger brother Donnell Wilburn (Stefan J. Wernli),, Dee-Dee’s other best friend Harry White (Keith "Bubba" Naylor), and local comic book store owner Mrs. Pinckney (Kym Whitley).

Set in the suburbs of the west side of Charlotte, North Carolina, My Brother and Me was the Nickelodeon's answer to Sister, Sister, a sitcom on ABC starring identical twins Tia and Tamera Mowry that had debuted earlier that year. With a beat writer for the local newspaper for a father and a school teacher for a mother, Alfie and Dee-Dee enjoyed a stable living environment in which they could thrive academically and socially while simply being kids. A middle-class family with access to all of the basic amenities, the Parkers' economic situation was in stark contrast to the usual scratching-and-surviving, rags-to-riches themes often associated with sitcoms geared towards people of color.

While removed from the harsh realities that often accompany life in the inner-city, the Parker boys were drawn in by the allure of street culture, with Alfie and Dee-Dee both being avid fans of hip hop music, fashion, and style. This love affair would be the driving force behind various episodes, most notably "Dee-Dee's Haircut," during which Dee-Dee allows Goo to butcher his hair after marveling at fellow student Kenny's "Cool Dr. Money"-inspired haircut. Going as far as handpicking designs out of a rap magazine Donell borrows from his sister Dionne, Dee-Dee goes to the extreme in an attempt to mirror Kenny and Cool Dr. Money, a testament to the influence hip hop holds over him. His affinity for the culture is also reflected in the "Donnell's Birthday Party" episode, during which the impressionable youngster mimicking dance moves from a rap video in hopes of tightening up his dance skills.

Alfie and Dee-Dee may have been the intended stars of the show, but to many viewers, the most memorable character from My Brother and Me was Goo, who stole scenes with his humorous wisecracks and mischievous hijinks, often at the expense of Dee-Dee and his friends. From showering Mrs. Parker with disarming compliments to masterminding various plots and schemes in an attempt to get himself and Alfie out of trouble, Goo proved to be the most entertaining member of the show, exuding swagger and confidence that are palpable to the viewer and as hip hop as it gets. On the other hand, Alfie, who is not as overtly demonstrative in his rap fandom as his younger brother or Goo, reps his allegiance to the culture more subtly, with his haircut, backward caps and boisterous mannerisms.

While race was never a prevalent topic on the show, if one was to look closer between the lines, My Brother and Me was unapologetically black and pridefully so. Take, for instance, the various nods to HBCU culture throughout the show, including Roger Parker's various North Carolina Central University sweatshirts and hats, Alfie's Morehouse fit, and insignias from various black fraternities. One other common thread of the show was its incorporation of sports, starting with the Parker household's fandom of Charlotte's local professional franchises on full display, as Charlotte Hornets and Carolina Panthers memorabilia are all visible throughout the household. Cameos also included appearances from NBA stars Kendall Gill and Dennis Scott, the latter of whom teaches Alfie, the superior athlete of the Parker brothers, a lesson in selflessness and teamwork by cutting him from the school basketball team in "The Basketball Tryouts" episode.

Of all of the aspects of My Brother and Me that made the show a game-changer, the fact that it was one of the first times young black males saw themselves in characters on the TV is the most enduring. While plenty of shows and networks fixated on coming-of-age storylines centered around the privileged youth of white America, My Brother and Me provided the alternative, promoting the bond of brotherhood and family values with each episode aired. Preceding shows like Kenan & Kel and Cousin Skeeter, both of which implemented overt comedic or fictional elements, My Brother and Me was a realistic glimpse at the life of the average black boy in America without the overarching narratives of impoverishment, temptation, and despair. For many young black men born in the '80s, the show left an indelible impact on them and holds a place near to their heart a quarter-century later.

In spite of its critical acclaim and popularity, My Brother and Me only aired for one season, as it was canceled after airing its final episode on January 15, 1995. The network would air reruns into the early 2000s before returning briefly during The '90s Are All That block on TeenNick in December 2013, the last time the show would appear on television. In June 2014, Nickelodeon released My Brother & Me: The Complete Series as a two-disc DVD, giving a new generation of viewers and longtime fans of the show an opportunity to relive the magic that the show captured during its short, yet unforgettable run.

In the years following My Brother and Me's cancellation, many of the actors and actresses from the show would fail to find their footing in the entertainment industry, resulting in their acting careers fading into obscurity. Arthur Reggie III scored a few additional credits, appearing in the TV shows Sliders and C-Bear and Jamal, as well as the 1998 film Bulworth, but later transitioned into a rap career, performing under the name Show Bizness. My Brother and Me would mark Ralph Woolfolk's last appearance as an actor, as he decided to leave the industry behind and focus on his education, pursuing a degree in English at Morehouse College in Atlanta, while also attending law school. He is also a member of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and currently serves as a police officer for the city of Atlanta. Jimmy Lee Newman, Jr. scored bit roles in the TV shows Sweet Justice and Sister, Sister in the subsequent years after the show, while Aisling Sistrunk, Stefan J. Wernli and Keith "Bubba" Naylor would never act professionally again.

However, a few members of the cast were able to sustain viable acting careers well beyond My Brother and Me's cancellation, most notably Amanda Seales, Karen E. Fraction and Jim Coleman. Seales would rebrand herself as Amanda Diva and become a successful media personality before transitioning back into acting, last appearing as Tiffany DuBois on HBO's "Insecure." In 2019, Seales debuted an HBO Comedy Special I Be Knowin', and was chosen as the emcee for NBC's comedy competition, Bring the Funny. Jim Coleman has kept himself busy with various roles over the past two decades, last appearing in "The Council," and continues to receive steady work. Karen Fraction would add a few additional credits to her resume after "My Brother and Me," but passed away on October 30, 2007, after a five year battle with breast cancer. She is survived by her two children, Lauren Elizabeth Jean and Lawrence Wm. Morris, and her husband Lawrence Hamilton. And last, but not least, Kym Whitley would enjoy a fruitful career on television and on the big screen, appearing in dozens of shows and films throughout her lengthy career, with her latest role being Mrs. Malinky in the Netflix animated comedy Pinky Malinky.

In the time since the debut of My Brother and Me, a lot has changed in terms of the presence and representation of black youth on television and beyond. A number of black actors and actresses have had the opportunity to shine in a big way, including Tyler James Williams (Everybody Hates Chris) Zendaya (Shake It Up), Kyle Massey (Corey in the House), Keke Palmer (True Jackson, VP), Miles Brown (Black-Ish) and Alex R. Hibbert (The Chi) all among the more prominent child stars making major waves on TV over the past two decades. That said, 25 years later, the fact remains that My Brother and Me was ahead of the curve as one of the first instances of seeing ourselves in a positive and uplifting light on the small screen.

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