April 25, 2019 

By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. 

NNPA Newswire Contributor 

 

Lorraine Toussaint has plans. The SAG award-winner and NAACP Image award nominee that has an acting career that spans more than thirty years, is starring as Patricia on NBC’s mid-season replacement “The Village,” a show about a motley crew of residents living in a building in Brooklyn with interconnected lives. Filling the time slot of NBC’s mega hit “This Is Us,” “The Village” features an ensemble cast made up of a “who’s who” of television stars (Dominic Chianese, Frankie Faison, Moran Atias, Michaela McManus, Jerod Haynes, Grace Van Dien, Warren Christie and Daren Kagasoff) working together to convey the story of a “family” supporting each other as their lives unfold.

 

Toussaint, whose career began on the stage, worked for many years in television as a guest star on iconic television shows like “Law & Order,” “Crossing Jordan” and “Ugly Betty.” In recent years, Toussaint has moved from the margins to the center of the drama, most notably as inmate Vee on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, which earned Toussaint a Critic’s Choice TV award. Driven, Toussaint currently stars in season three of AMC’s “Into the Badlands,” and recently wrapped filming of Julie Taymor’s film, The Glorias, where she plays feminist icon and civil rights legend Flo Kennedy.

 

Toussaint is an actress who has had the opportunity to play a wide variety of roles, from a concerned mother on “Rosewood,” to a futuristic prophetess on “The Badlands” to civil rights activist Amelia Boynton (Robinson) in Ava Duvernay’s film Selma. When discussing how she chooses characters while promoting “The Village” at SCAD’s aTVfest, Toussaint talks about the journey from taking roles you can actually get to actively deciding to be brave and bold in her choices.

 

“You know, there's a point in your career where you take whatever you can get. And then, early on in my career, I realized, oh, I don't want to do that. I actually want to do certain kinds of roles,” says the Trinidadian born actress. “You then begin to be brave enough to begin to say no to certain things. And then there comes a time, when you reach a point in your career where you intuitively choose certain kinds of work. I'm so pleased to be at that point and that I'm still relevant,” she adds.

 

Toussaint spent the first 12 years of her acting career on stage, honing her craft and getting the proper training to ensure a long career. In addition to training, Toussaint says she figured out that how she chose roles was as important as getting them or just getting a paycheck. “When you’re well past 50, heading to 60, you reflect on your career. I've gotten brave again,” says Toussaint. “I don't care so much about how it looks or what anybody thinks about it anymore. I'm really going by my own inner barometer, my own moral compass, my own creative impulses, and that feels good,” adds the Brooklyn bred thespian.

 

“The Village,” which takes place in Brooklyn, is a homecoming for Toussaint, who got the call while filming “Into the Badlands,” in Ireland. “You can’t be in Brooklyn and not have Caribbean representation,” Toussaint offers. “I wanted to make sure that Mike Daniels (showrunner) brought that culture into the show which you see in Season One.” Toussaint incorporates her upbringing and Trinidadian culture into the character of Patricia when bringing her to life.

 

“It's something about the way in which I was raised and having been self-governed,” Toussaint reflects. “Coming from a country that is self-governed, where I was never a minority, I didn't grow up knowing myself to be a minority of any kind, as a woman or as a woman of color. I came from these Amazonian black women, and we never measured ourselves against white people because they weren't a thought,” Toussaint states matter-of-factly when discussing her childhood. 

 

Toussaint brings this perspective into her character whose life is interconnected with the others in the house including a single mother, a veteran, a law school student and a nurse to name a few. Their struggles involve everything from PTSD to immigration to teen pregnancy, but they manage to get through it. Patricia is one half of an older, black couple who are still in love and still helping to guide and support their makeshift family. Patricia and Ron (Faison) work together to ensure the family remains intact.

 

Toussaint is proud to bring this type of relationship to television – one with older black people loving each other and their neighbors unconditionally. Playing Patricia gives her an opportunity to show the complexity of black women.

 

“We [Black Women] are so many things and we aren’t often allowed to show all of those qualities on TV,” Toussaint muses. “This show is different. I play a black mama but I am allowed to be vulnerable, sexy, right, wrong and that’s why she’s interesting. She’s familiar yet different.”

 

Familiarity yet difference is what makes “The Village” special. “It feels easy and relatable,” says Toussaint. When asked what she wants audiences to get from this show, the enduring actress ponders momentarily. “I want audiences to wish they lived in this building or in this community. I want people to realize it actually takes small gestures to reach out to someone where they are in order to create a little village of your own.”

 

Toussaint is part of a larger village of black actresses with staying power and the ability to move between television and film in a variety of roles. In an industry that can be fickle and brutal, particularly when it comes to women and women of color, Toussaint’s longevity is remarkable. “I always knew I was going to be a long-distance runner in this business,” Toussaint quips. “I’m grateful that I’m still here, love to go to work every day and in the trenches with such creative talent. I’m especially grateful that you guys still want to see me,” says the veteran actress. 

 

“The Village” airs on NBC at 9 p.m. EST. Check local listings for channel information.

Category: Arts & Culture

April 18, 2019 

Aries 

MAR 21 - APR 19 

You've got it going on this week, Aries! You'll command attention no matter where you go and what you do simply because of how you'll communicate with others. Your voice will have an impact, and if you have something to say to your lover or a love interest, you're not about to mince words. A Full Moon in your partnership sector on Friday brings in themes of commitment. Do you want to be exclusive with someone you've been dating? Now is the time to make it happen. Already attached Aries will have a relationship awakening. After Saturday when Venus moves into Aries, you'll be sexier than ever. Work it!

 

Taurus 

APR 20 - MAY 20 

Hmm ... are you ready for a secret lover? It's possible, Taurus, so if you're not interested in getting caught up in a love triangle or a situation where you have to keep your feelings for someone hidden, you need to open your eyes PRONTO. Otherwise there is every possibility that you'll wake up by Saturday and find that you're starring in a romantic soap opera of your own. Sure, it could be the most exciting romantic adventure you've had in a while, but ask yourself: are the consequences worth it?

  

Gemini 

MAY 21 - JUN 20 

You've got options in love, Gemini, and the people coming toward you this week are in it to win it! More than one person in your social circle might be interested in dating you, and the funniest part about this scenario is that these two individuals might end up fighting over you. They each see you as a prize to be won and the competition over your heart (or a first date) will be very real. In the end you probably already know which one has a real chance, so don't allow the charades to go on for too long. Still, it's flattering.

 

Cancer 

JUN 21 - JUL 22 

This isn't a particularly romantic week for you, Cancer. You're more focused on domestic matters and career aspirations. Still, there are nuggets of potential if you choose to put the time and effort into it. If you're in a relationship, then you and your partner might join forces on Friday to help each other deal with an emotionally-charged family situation. If single, there is someone connected to your career you might be considering flirting with. This person is quite successful and ambitious. You're interested!

  

Leo 

JUL 23 - AUG 22 

You've got big love for someone early in the week, and you will definitely be showing it. You'll probably have one of your signature grand, over-the-top gestures planned to make sure that your lover knows exactly how special he or she is. Extravagance is likely and you might spend more money than you can realistically afford, so be aware of this potential. Even you have limits, Leo! If single, you might have an opportunity to meet someone after Saturday who has a different approach to life than you. It's all good.

  

Virgo 

AUG 23 - SEP 22 

If you're in a relationship, this might be an interesting week where love and money intersect for you in a very positive way. Your partner might serve as a benefactor to you in some capacity. As one example, he or she might find out that they're going to receive a major pay raise or other financial win. Not only will your lover be excited to share this news with you, but he or she also wants to share the wealth. Money isn't buying love in this case, but it sure is going to make your love life together a little sweeter. Enjoy!

 

Libra 

SEP 23 - OCT 22 

Emotional heat will permeate your love life. It all starts with a Full Moon in Libra on Friday. If you are feeling out of balance with your partner -- like you don't get the same emotional fulfillment you used to get -- this is the time to speak up about it. Fortunately, by Saturday you and your partner will both want to create more harmony in your love connection. The only trouble is that each of you is so busy loving the other in the styles you wish you had for yourself. Reverse engineer your love life approach and you'll be happier than ever!

  

Scorpio 

OCT 23 - NOV 21 

You'll need to decide how much of a price you're willing to pay for love early in the week. If you're dating someone, it's possible that you're in a situation where you feel like you are constantly footing the bill for dates and other recreational activities with your sweetie. On Monday you might realize that you're about to break the bank. Don't do it! If single, you could meet someone very sexy at the gym or while you're taking care of your routine doctor visits. This person might be in the waiting room, but he or she might also be one of your health care providers.

  

Sagittarius 

NOV 22 - DEC 21 

You're ready for a change in scenery, and a turning point in your social life might open up new dating prospects. It's likely that you're either ready for a new group of friends or you and your pals have decided it's time to switch things up and stop going to your regular bars and restaurants. This decision will be a wise one, because as early as Saturday you'll notice major new romantic opportunities while you're out with friends. Someone will come in hot and heavy this weekend. Be ready.

 

Capricorn 

DEC 22 - JAN 19 

This week everything important about your love life centers on home and family matters. If you've recently started to date someone and have been wondering when the perfect time to introduce them to your clan might be, shoot for after Saturday. This is when Venus moves into your domestic sector, which should make for a harmonious vibe. Your clan will welcome the new love of your life as one of the family! If single, ask one of your relatives to set you up on a date with someone they think may be a good fit. You might be pleasantly surprised!

  

Aquarius 

JAN 20 - FEB 18 

You'll have bold new ideas surrounding matters of the heart this week. Mercury and Venus will both be in your message sector by Saturday, helping you to communicate bravely to someone you've got a crush on. This will be the time to strike up a conversation and let him or her know for sure that you're interested. If you're already in a relationship, then you and your partner might be busy making a major decision about your love connection. It involves a new beginning. You might be thinking about going into business with your sweetheart. It looks good.

 

Pisces 

FEB 19 - MAR 20 

You'll have Venus still moving through your sign until Saturday, so don't waste this romantic cosmic boost. Not only are you more physically appealing to others, you are also giving off tender, loving vibes that make other people want to attach themselves to you. On Monday, however, you might be tempted to promise more than you can deliver to someone in the name of love. You want your sweetheart to admire you, and that's understandable. The problem, however, is that when you over-give to such an extent, you often wind up empty-handed. Think twice. 

Category: Arts & Culture

April 18, 2019 

By Kimberlee Buck 

Contributing Writer 

 

On Thursday, April 11, thousands of fans across the U.S. gathered in downtown Los Angeles at the Staples Center to say their farewells to rapper, philanthropist, and community activist Ermias “Nipsey Hussle” Asghedom, who was killed in front of his Marathon Clothing store in late March. The funeral is the first of its kind to be held at the sports and entertainment center since the death of pop star Michael Jackson in 2009.

 

The memorial service opened with words from Pastors Reid Rich and Shep Crawford, followed by a slideshow with images of Hussle throughout the years, as well as photos of the rapper with his family, friends, and longtime girlfriend Lauren London.

 

Next, singer Marsha Ambrosius took to the stage to pay tribute to Hussle with a performance of Mariah Carey’s song, “Fly Like A Bird.”

 

Hussle’s business partner and friend, Karen Civil, read a letter from former U.S. President Barack Obama to the audience.

 

In the letter, Obama expressed his condolences to the family and encouraged others to continue fulfilling the vision Hussle had for the Crenshaw community.

 

“I’ve never met Nipsey but I’ve heard his music through my daughters, and after his passing, I had a chance to learn more about his transformation and his community work. While most folks look at the Crenshaw neighborhood where he grew up and only see gangs, bullets, and despair, Nipsey saw potential,” read the letter.

 

 “He saw hope. He saw a community that even through its flaws taught him to always keep going. His choice to invest in that community, rather than to ignore it, to build a skills training center, a co-working space in Crenshaw to lift of the Eritrea American community. He set an example for young people to follow and that is a legacy worth celebration. I hope his memory inspires more good work in Crenshaw and communities like it.”

 

After the reading of the letter Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan accompanied by Brother Tony Muhammad, shared his thoughts on the “prophetic soul” of Hussle.

 

“The work that his life will produce, will go down in history as something that has changed the world. The name Ermias in the language of the Eritrean people means God is rising,” said Farrakhan.

 

“The name Nipsey in that same language means homie, a brother from the hood that never really left the hood but now the whole world will have to embrace him as his life and his death changes the hood and produces a profound change in the world. Ermias was more than a Hip-Hop artist. He was a voice, he was a brilliant mind and the spirit of God was in his life.”

 

Next, Hussle’s daughter Emani Asghedom, two-year-old son Kross Asghedom (the shared child between London and Hussle) and Kameron Carter (London’s son with rapper Lil Wayne) appeared on the stage dressed in white and blue. The children were accompanied by London and Hussle’s sister Samantha Smith.

 

“One the night of April 2, I had a dream I was in a paradise and I was playing in the ocean water when Ermias popped up right behind me. He said ‘what up killa’ because that’s my nickname,” said Carter, who spoke on behalf of the other children.

 

“I turned around and I yelled his name and I gave him a hug. Shortly, he was gone. I told my mom about the dream and after I told her I was thinking about it and I realized that Ermias told me what Heaven was like. He told me it was paradise.”

 

Hussle’s mother and father Angelique Smith and Dawit Asghedom also spoke to the audience. 

 

“I have perfect peace. I am happy, I am complete. I am strong and if I can feel this way, so can you. We call on the creator for everything and on mother earth who sustains us. We call on the energies who guide and protect us as we make our way in life. We call on our ancestors to join us at this service,” said Angelique Smith.

 

“We ask the ancestors of Ermias Joseph Asghedom to keep him company on his journey and we ask them to be there. I ask that all of our ancestors guide and protect us and give us the gift of perfect peace,” Hussle’s mother prayed.

 

Hussle’s brother Samiel Asghedom spoke about the rapper’s contributions.

 

 “He just wanted to inspire and always bring something back. It wasn’t about how some people think handouts are given. When we were growing up, we just admired the people in the community that was hustling and had because we grew up kind of have nots. They didn’t have to give us anything, they inspired us. Nip was about ­demonstrating and coming back,” he said.

 

Hussle’s girlfriend, London, shared a text she had written him on January 1, 2019, as well as other personal stories.

 

“I just want you to know that you have been the greatest boyfriend to me, and even though you are not perfect, I would never ask you to be,” read London’s text.

 

“You and I work, we fit, and you are the coolest guy in the world to me still. I love you so much unconditionally. My truth is this, I’m never gonna give up on you. My love and my devotion is to you.”

 

London goes on to describe the type of man Hussle was.

 

“His soul was majestic and he was the strongest man I ever knew. A gentle father. A patient leader, a divine light. He was brilliant, he researched everything. Completely self-taught, constantly seeking knowledge.”

 

 

Following London’s speech, Hussle’s sister Samantha Smith spoke next.

 

“To my brother, my protector, my guy who thought he was my daddy and it’s okay. I just first want to say thank you for loving me unconditionally, for never judging me, for having my back always, anytime no matter what you was doing,” she said.

 

Finally, Hussle’s father Dawit Asghedom spoke. He described his son as a “fighter” and encouraged others to stop the violence. 

 

Rapper Snoop Dogg followed with his condolences to London and Hussle’s family. 

 

“For those who knew Nipsey Hussle personally, you knew that he had nothing but love for every gang member from Southern California. I don’t care what neighborhood you are from,” said Snoop Dogg.

 

He goes on to explain how Hussle made records with both Crips and Bloods which untied the neighborhoods.

 

“You are a peace advocate Nip, that’s what you are and I know that because that’s what I am and the marathon is going to continue period! My final words will be for God so loved the world that he gave us a Crip. The late great neighborhood Nip.” 

 

Other speakers and guest appearances included: Singer Anthony Hamilton; Father Thomas Uwal from the Nation of  Eritera; singer Jhené Aiko, Stevie Wonder; rapper YG, DJ Mustard;  and Adam Andebrha.

 

Following the three-hour-long memorial service, the family held a processional for those who were unable to attend the celebration of life inside the Staple Center.

 

Thousands of fans flooded the streets as the silver hearse carrying Hussle’s body made its way to some of the most memorable places in the rapper’s life.

 

The 25.5-mile procession began at Staples Center and made its way through South L.A., La Brea Avenue and Manchester Boulevard in Inglewood, and Slauson Avenue where Hussle’s Marathon Clothing store is located.

 

As the hearse made its way through each stop, fans held up Eritrean flags and Nipsey Hussle memorabilia. Those who were able to get close enough to the vehicle were able to touch the hearse and throw white and red roses on top. Others stood on the curb, in the streets, and on rooftops of local buildings while singing and dancing to their favorite songs from the rapper’s album.

 

“I am here to show solidarity but to also let them know if they take one of us out, we have a thousand coming on solider strong. That man, he was the brain, he was the thinker but he also had soldiers,” said a Final Call representative.

 

“He mobilized with his music. He put a lot of economic empowerment into his music. He also was able to showcase a level of opulence within the Hip-Hop community and he carried himself as a king, so I salute that man.”

 

Local residents Nancy York and Chynah Blaque also told the LA Sentinel what Hussle meant to them.

 

“Nipsey Hussle was a great inspiration for the community. He was a young African-American man that was a gang member but he turned himself around as far as building up in the community to where he was, helping pretty much everyone that came up to him. He would do anything for his community and people across the world,” said York.

 

York goes on to explain how other rappers can keep Hussle’s legacy alive.

 

“Pretty much keep the marathon going and giving to the community by building parks and putting money back in the community so that all the kids can have a safe environment.”

 

 Blaque who told the Sentinel that she was friends with Nipsey stated: “He was a great young man, his energy was everything and he not only lived in this community, he was a product of this community. What he did was a great body of work. It hasn’t been done by any African American and he was 33 years young and he accomplished a lot in his years of being in this place. Hopefully celebrities, and even just us as Black people, Black people as a whole that we will step up especially the men, and just give guidance to the young men in the community as well and just continue [Hussle’s] legacy. 

 

Hussle’s final victory lap ended in front of Angelus Funeral Home.

 

What fans and local residents are taking away from Hussle’s legacy is this: Invest in the Black community, uplift the Black community, and give back to the Black community. Although the rapper and community activist has been laid to rest, in the words of the South Los Angeles community, “the marathon continues.”

Category: Arts & Culture

April 11, 2019 

Aries 

MAR 21 - APR 19 

Have you got a secret about your love life that is so delicious you just want to keep it all to yourself? Maybe it's more about wanting to keep your love life private, or maybe you and your lover simply want to get away from the world and go live in your own little fantasy world this week. Whatever your personal romantic details are, the theme of privacy, seclusion, and behind-the-scenes romance is off the charts for you this week. Don't worry, Aries -- it doesn't look scandalous. In fact, it looks enchanting.

 

Taurus 

APR 20 - MAY 20 

This is shaping up to be a dream-come-true week for you in matters of the heart. Here's why: Venus is now comfortably nestled in the area of your chart connected to your greatest aspirations. This helps you dream big when it comes to what you really want in a partner and in your love life. It also helps you remember how worthy you are to actually receive the kind of love that is stunningly pure. With all the perfect connections Venus makes in the sky this week, there has to be some kind of development between you and someone special. Your heart is open and now it's time to open your eyes. Love is right in front of you.

 

Gemini 

MAY 21 - JUN 20 

If you've got absolutely nothing going on in your love life, Gemini, then this is a week to pay close attention to your professional atmosphere. There is the strong potential that someone you hold in high regard in your industry has quite the crush on you! He or she may not be your actual boss, but this person will be someone you truly admire professionally. In fact, this might also be a person in your life who is somehow helping to make your career dreams come true. Ha! And you thought that he or she was just being nice. Think again. Someone is enamored!

 

Cancer 

JUN 21 - JUL 22 

If you're in a relationship, then you and your partner are focused on the spiritual component of your union. If you're already married, it's possible that you'll want to renew your vows. If you're planning a wedding, then you might meet with a clergy member to discuss the details of your celebration. You might also spend time taking care of certain legalities such as a pre-nuptial agreement. Although this usually isn't very romantic, you'll manage to make it a non-issue. Single? Someone very inspirational is lurking in your environment. He or she believes in the romantic potential between the two of you. Do you?

 

Leo 

JUL 23 - AUG 22 

You might be extremely caught up in your fantasy life. Happily, it should work out well for you, because you've got everything you need from the universe to help support making those erotic dreams come true! In fact, the more you thought something could only happen in your dreams with someone special, the more likely it is to actually happen now. It's as if you are watching a movie of your own love life unfold right before your very eyes. You've imagined this happening between you and someone over and over again. All of a sudden, you'll find yourself experiencing it. Pinch yourself -- it's real.

 

Virgo 

AUG 23 - SEP 22 

Be careful what you wish for Virgo, because this week you just might get it. At least when it comes to your love life. Fortunately, you're more likely to thank your lucky stars that you've been this blessed once these magical moments start to unfold. It's as if all you've ever hoped for in a relationship or from your current partner is suddenly appearing right before your very eyes. Whatever has been on your "impossible" checklist in matters of the heart is now being checked off effortlessly. It's as if your lover has turned into a genie this week and literally says: "Your wish is my command." WOW!

  

Libra 

SEP 23 - OCT 22 

You really do believe that love can conquer all this week, and lucky for you, that philosophy will actually work. The details and work that go into a genuine romantic relationship are not something you're unaware of. Rather, this will be a week where you choose to overlook the mechanics of love in order to focus on what your love life does to fill your heart and soul without all of the drudgery attached to partnering up. You're not interested in toil but rather fantasy and enchantment. Go get yours, Libra, because this week, a happy ending is possible.

  

Scorpio 

OCT 23 - NOV 21 

It's raining hearts and flowers for you this week, Scorpio. Truly, you've got some of the most exquisite romantic energy and there's every likelihood that you're feeling the love from someone special. Venus and Neptune will embrace in sweet harmony on Thursday right in your true love sector. This is all about the magic of love and dreams coming true in your love life, all because you dared to believe in that fairytale potential with all of your heart. Now, it's coming to fruition. Your heart will be happy.

  

Sagittarius 

NOV 22 - DEC 21 

You are more in love with your sweetheart than ever, and the reason for your knees feeling weak might be coming from an unlikely source. It looks as though your family or domestic situation might be the reason you're so over-the-moon for someone. Perhaps you're dating someone and have just introduced them to your kids. Everyone might really get along well, and this will give your heart the green light to truly fall in love. Another possibility is that your sweetie is helping around the house with chores or renovation projects. Home sweet home!

  

Capricorn 

DEC 22 - JAN 19 

Love is definitely on your brain this week! Venus will continue to move through your communication sector, and on Thursday she'll be in perfect alignment to mystical Neptune, also in the same part of your chart. This means your mind might run away with romantic fantasies and, yes, it is possible that you're not seeing things quite clearly when it comes to your current love life scenario. But you're not worried because this dream state you're in is the only place you care to be at the moment. Enjoy the bliss!

 

Aquarius 

JAN 20 - FEB 18 

While almost everyone else has romantic bliss happening this week, you've got a different set of circumstances. You might actually find that your bubble bursts when it comes to your lover. He or she might have been hiding some information, or you may have been the one trying to manipulate a situation in your favor. Whatever the details, it's likely to blow up by Saturday. Trying to control your relationship through lies never works, Aquarius. Whether you're on the giving or receiving end of this situation, do your best to do what you know is right.

 

Pisces 

FEB 19 - MAR 20 

You're exuding so much light and compassion, how can anyone not be responsive to it? If you're single, there's a good chance that your random acts of kindness toward others will be noticed and appreciated by someone. This person might have been quietly admiring you, but this week may decide it's time to come forward. He or she appreciates you for the qualities you genuinely possess and won't try to make you into his or her version of the perfect love. Isn't it sweet to be this adored?

Category: Arts & Culture

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