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Three’s Complicated and Fun on Film

THE AFRO — The project stars Shanola Hampton (of Showtime’s “Shameless”), who also served as an executive producer on the film.




By George Kevin Jordan

What would you do? You are 42, divorced and passed over for a promotion. You meet a cute young thing at a bar and have some fun—for once. You have a no-strings-attached session and keep it pushing back to your “real life.” But then you discover  your daughter (read: your real life) is dating your weekend-stand. Throw in an ex or two and it gets…well…complicated.

That the premise behind “Three’s Complicated,” a film that debuts Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. EST/ 6 p.m. Central on TV One.

The project stars Shanola Hampton (of Showtime’s “Shameless”), who also served as an executive producer on the film. The film was written and directed by Shari Lynette Carpenter. Rounding out the cast are Tyler Lepley (“The Haves and The Have Nots”), Kyanna Simone Simpson (“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”) and Charles Malik Whitfield (“The Temptations”).

Hampton was excited to bring the project to life, and to have a bigger hand in the process.

“It’s really a great concept,” Hampton said about the film, adding that the project gave her a chance to fulfill many goals she envisioned for herself in the upcoming year.

“It was one of my visions last year for my life,” Hampton said. “I wanted to find a film I was excited about, I wanted to work with a great team. It was a great partnership with TV One. It was so much fun. It really was what I call the perfect marriage for my first time as executive producer.”

Hampton was very candid about taking the helm, saying, “There are all sorts of decisions that need to be made that people have no idea about.”

She added with a laugh, “But I like being a boss. I’m a boss in my own house  – ask my husband. I executive produce my life. It was an easy transition to do it on set.”

All jokes aside Hampton and the crew are excited to be on the uptick of entertainment gigs for people of color, but are not afraid to call out the hypocrisy of Hollywood.

“We have had more opportunities than we’ve ever had which is a good thing but we still have a long way to go,” Hampton said.

Tyler Lepley said he was excited as well but knows talent is talent regardless of the beholder.

“You have someone like Viola Davis,” Avery said. “She was great before anyone White said she was great. This whole thing of a Black artist not being great unless a White person says so is just stupid. That Black artistry is great before anyone else says it is.”

Even though it’s a comedy, “Three’s Complicated” is doing some low-key activism, pushing to the forefront ideas of sexuality, romance, identity and, of course, aging.

“This is definitely one reason I was drawn to the role,” Hampton said. “The fact of the matter that 42 is not old by any means but in certain industries it’s perceived that way. It is a story that needs to be told; I really wanted to show beauty, talent, heart, even in your forties.”

Last week, Regina King, after winning a Golden Globe for her role in “If Beale Street Could Talk,” made a promise that 50 percent of any crew she worked on would be women. This call to action resonates with Hampton and her team.

“Look at our film: A woman wrote it, a women directed,” she said, adding, “A woman is going to bring something different than a male. There’s a different love that goes to it. So it needs to be done more.”

Once a project is completed your idea of what you wanted may have shifted. But Hampton an Lepley were very focused on their goals for the film.

“I want to bring a grounded sense of reality to this romantic comedy and not have it be slapstick,” Lepley said; “to bring the truth to something that is funny.”

Hampton concurred, “I really want people to feel the subtlety of this being a romantic comedy but making sure it was rooted in truth. I wanted people to feel the reality of it.”

For more information on the film please go to the TV One site.

This article originally appeared in The Afro

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The Mayflower Chorus Presents Spring Show “Higher Ground”

The Mayflower Choral Society is a nonprofit corporation and the parent organization of the Mayflower Chorus, the performing ensemble of the Mayflower Choral Society which supports the educational and cultural benefits of musical performance to its members, the Marin community, and the general public. 




The Mayflower Chorus will present their spring show “Higher Ground: A Celebration of Music and the Creative Spirit” on Saturday, May 22, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. The free live-streamed celebration can be accessed by clicking on the Events button at

 The show will feature songs from diverse genres — rock, jazz, Broadway, and traditional choral. An original composition by David Manley will be presented. Kat Austin, their scholarship recipient, will perform a solo, and Mayflower choristers Kellie Allen and Melissa Muller will lead a sing-along.

Film footage and special effects was added to the spring show to provide the viewer with a full music video experience. 

Choral Director Robert Hazelrigg will conduct The Mayflower Chorus. Music Director David Manley will lead The Mayflower Band. Choreography and costume design is provided by Show Director Cathy Sarkisian. David and Cathy designed and edited the audio/video footage assisted by Gina Chapman.

The Mayflower Choral Society is a nonprofit corporation and the parent organization of the Mayflower Chorus, the performing ensemble of the Mayflower Choral Society which supports the educational and cultural benefits of musical performance to its members, the Marin community, and the general public. 

The Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter seasons culminate in several professional-quality shows with a diverse mix of traditional, contemporary, and original music. In addition to seasonal shows, the Mayflower Chorus also provides vocal entertainment in a variety of musical styles for private, corporate, and community events.

     For more information on the Mayflower Chorus Society, to schedule their small ensembles and/or the full chorus, or to support their educational and cultural programs, go to

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REVIEW: A Tale of Two Mothers in Radio Play of Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye”

Mia Lane



Cathleen Riddley. Photo courtesy of Aurora Theatre Company.

Michael Asberry. Photo courtesy Stuart Locklear Photography

The Aurora Theater is finishing up a run for radio of the stage adaptation of Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Bluest Eye.” 

Just past Mother’s Day, the tale of two moms, adapted for the stage by Lydia R. Diamond, we meet Mrs. Breedlove and Mama as actor Cathleen Riddley takes on both personas. Perhaps the actor’s success lies in the potential inherent in each of us to do the same if given certain experiences within fixed structural policies or historic mapping.

What does Black geography look like? 

Mrs. Breedlove sees herself as beautiful until she believes the lie. Her melanin too much for a world without color, she frightens her neighbors, even other Black people who are trying to get along and so she stifles her fire; covers her flame until it is little more than a spark, just enough to throw her legs over the side of the bed, put feet into worn, yet comfortably familiar shoes until the weight of her Blackness settles like an anvil upon her once proud shoulders . . . and so, into this world Pecola is born– a beautiful brown baby girl.

     With her marriage to Cholly (Michael J. Asberry), an orphan rescued for a garbage heap, Mrs. Breedlove was so looking forward to this new, sweet life. Leaving behind loved ones — a community reminder to the newlyweds that they mattered —  the newlyweds head north to the bare northern region Lorrain, Ohio, where that sense of self-worth is absent.

All Pecola (Jasmine Milan Williams) wants is for Mrs. Breedlove, her mom, and Cholly, her dad, to love her. Constantly wishing to disappear from the violence and unhappiness furnishing all the rooms in her life, the child notices how in the absent body– her eyes are always left. Her soul refuses to shut its eyes. Perhaps the windows remain open as a witness. Pecola wants to be gone completely– she does not want to take anything forward into the fairy tale captured in films with blonde, blue-eyed heroines or the pretty “light-skinned” girls at school who get all the attention.

Mama, on the other hand, is the mother of Frieda and Darlene (Sam Jackson), two girls who are Pecola’s friends. After a fire, Pecola stays with the girls’ family while their home is being repaired. Pecola has an opportunity to see and perhaps imagine another version of her story. Frieda and Darlene’s mother and father are so different from her own. The story takes place over a season beginning in Autumn.

Dawn Monique Williams, the director, says the Aurora production is for all the Black girls and women who couldn’t find a space to be free, where beauty and liberation were synonymous. 

    “The Bluest Eye” is an adult story, even if the narrator is a child. There is rape, physical violence, and death. It is what one might call a tragedy, so take care of yourself and listen to loved ones. You will want to talk with others afterward. One can feel the love shared among the cast, director, and creative production team. The sound design (Elton Bradman) is marvelous and you will probably never forget this story. We need to be gentle with each other. We literally do not know who is on the other side of the mask, but we can still hold each other in love and light as we recognize their humanity as we look in their eyes as we pass.

    As I spoke to cast members over a week in a series of radio conversations, my suggestion is to listen to all the perspectives. Each is singularly enlightening. It is pretty amazing to watch the actors slip in and out so seamlessly. between personas. There is also laughter and lightness within this story as in life.

    In its 29th Season, it is to its credit that Aurora Theatre allowed Williams, associate director, to take it on a creative journey unlike any before. We hope such excursions continue. Toni Morrison’s work, “The Bluest Eye” is among the classics in the Western canon.

Apply the Family Discount code: BluestCNC50 for half-price tickets: For tickets visit or call (510) 843-4822

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Bay Area

Residents Celebrate 510 Day, an Oakland Holiday

The holiday started in 2016, when a group of long-term Oakland residents felt that, in the face of Black and Brown native Oaklanders being displaced through the city’s gentrification, a celebration of their cultures was necessary.




Neptune Jenkins, Tiny Matthews and Zay Coleman at Oakland's 510 Day celebration today near the Lake Merritt Amphitheater. Photo by Zack Haber on May 10.

Demetrius Coats with his legs over his bike’s handlebars as he rides in the bike caravan around Lake Merritt at Oakland’s 510 Day celebration today.
Photo by Zack Haber on May 10.

Over 40 people gathered around Lake Merritt on Monday to celebrate 510 Day, an Oakland-based holiday that honors Black and Brown cultures of the city and their resilience against displacement each year on May 10.

“For us, it’s a protest and a party at the same time,” Leon Skyes, a Black Oakland native who helps organize 501 Day celebrations, told The Oakland Post. “Rather than being targeted, today we’re being celebrated.”

The holiday started in 2016, when a group of long-term Oakland residents felt that, in the face of Black and Brown native Oaklanders being displaced through the city’s gentrification, a celebration of their cultures was necessary. The 415 Day, a San Francisco holiday where residents gather every April 15th in Dolores Park to celebrate against and protest the removal of native SF families, was 510 Day’s inspiration. Both holidays get their name from their city’s respective telephone area codes.

In the years since the first 510 Day, several incidents at or near Lake Merritt have shown the area as a contested place where long-term Black and Brown residents’ acts of celebrating, music making, barbecuing, or simply existing have been under threat.

In the fall of 2016, a woman who lived near the lake called police on Aaron Davis, an 18-year-old Black Oakland native, to file a noise complaint about him playing his drum set. Soon after, Oaklanders rallied behind him with drums of their own to protest the complaint.

In mid-May of 2018, after a viral video showed white Oakland resident Jennifer Schulte calling police on Black Oakland resident Kenzie Smith for barbecuing near the lake, many Black Oakland residents came out to protest the incident by participating in the “BBQ’n While Black” celebration. Later that year, a white jogger threw a Black Oakland resident’s belongings in the lake. The city began evicting many Black and Brown homeless residents from the area and enforcing no camping rules in 2018 as well.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic the lake has become a contested site for informal Black and Brown businesses after residents who live nearby have filed complaints against Lake Merritt vendors selling merchandise without permits.

“Gentrification has created a hostile environment for us where we can’t even just exist without getting the cops called on us,” Needa Bee, who helped start 510 Day and organize its Lake Merritt celebrations, told The Oakland Post.

Bee, also known as The Lumpia Lady, has lived in Oakland for about 30 years and has sold lumpia, a traditional Filipino food, for about 10 years at Lake Merritt. She served free lumpia to those who came to the 510 Day celebration.

The celebration included a bike and car caravan that circled the lake about one and a half times. Bikers, many of whom rode fixed gears and did tricks, lead the way. Demetrius Coleman put his legs up on his bike’s handle bars several times as he rode. 

 At one point, Zay Coleman sat entirely on one side of his bike, only using one pedal to move it as he biked down Grand Avenue with both his legs and his face pointing towards the lake. Cars that had signs attached to them supporting defunding the Oakland Police Department and against gentrification followed along, honked their horns loudly, and blared Oakland musicians like Too $hort. Motorcyclists rode along and revved their engines. Two roller skaters also joined the caravan.

After the caravan, participants gathered at the Lake Merritt Amphitheater to eat food and take photos while some of the bikers continued to do tricks. Neptune Jenkins stood on the frame of his bike while grabbing the front wheel, pushing and pulling it back and forth while continuing to balance. Signs honoring historical Oakland events and famous Oaklanders like basketball player Bill Russell, activists Elaine Brown, Bobby Seale, and Fred Korematsu, musician and dancer Kehlani, and rap groups Hieroglyphics and Digital Underground were lined up in a row at the amphitheater.

Nicole Lee, an Oakland native who helped organize the celebration, described 510 Day as a way to “assert joy at the same time that we’re protesting around Oakland natives and Oakland culture being displaced.” 

The politics of 510 Day were present at the amphitheater, as organizers encouraged participants to sign a petition to be sent to City Council, Mayor Libby Schaaf and county and state leaders to support the #WeStillHere Oakland Platform which outlines nine demands including shelter for all and Oakland’s non-cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

While people celebrated at the amphitheater with music and some drank alcohol and smoked cannabis, the celebration stayed calm, the crowd was not densely packed, and people left well before dark. Although in years past 510 Day in person celebrations included larger, dense crowds and live DJs spinning loud music, organizers intentionally kept this year’s in person celebrations low key as a precaution against spreading COVID-19. The organizers hosted a party on the internet later in the evening with local DJs Kleptic, AbelDee and DJ Fuze.

“While this isn’t physically the largest [510 Day celebration], this has been one of the best ones, just by the heart of the people, the will of the people, and the vibe,” Skyes told the 510 Day celebrators at the Lake Merritt amphitheater. He looks forward to hopefully returning next year with a larger in person party/protest.

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