FLY Interviews

Fly Interview: Kari Faux Is That Beam of Sound That We’ve Been Looking For…

Rapper/Singer repping Little Rock, Arkansas, Kari Faux has been delivering her profound sound with minimal production to the music airwaves setting the tone to be one of the industry’s most spotlighted artist. Appearing on HBO‘s Insecure‘s official soundtrack gravitated Faux’s visibility to higher heights, gaining a even newer fanbase. Recently, Gabriel Williams of Stuff Fly People Like sat with the budding star as she talked about her new music, influences, style, being Lost In Los Angeles and more.

Check out the full interview below.


Tell me a little about yourself?

I don’t know, that’s such a broad question. I mean I’m from Little Rock, Arkansas. I moved to L.A. a year ago [and] started making the music that is the album. [That’s what brought on the title of the album right?] Yes, Lost In Los Angeles and I feel like it’s more [of an] honest version of myself. I don’t know if you’ve heard Laugh Now Die Later which was the first mixtape. [It] was more fun but I feel like this one is a little bit more honest.

So being from Arkansas which for some of us is like unheard of. We maybe come across 1 out of like 15 people from Arkansas in a place like New York City, so I’ve always been fascinated to know what goes on over there. What do you guys listen to and what was your upbringing like?

As far as how things are over there I mean it’s southern, very southern. [We] listen to [artists like] Bossie and Webbie. That’s what you hear when you go to the club. We’re two hours away from Memphis, and then we’re like 8 hours away from Atlanta, we’re close to New Orleans, we’re close to like all of Texas; [all these areas are} a big influence so it’s just a really country, southern place.

Wow, I’ve never been so what’s why I don’t know anything about it. That’s crazy, I didn’t realize it’s so close to everything, that’s pretty cool.

I mean it’s basically like Nashville without the music scene, without the poppin’ music scene. There’s no music scene, but I mean if we had like more artists coming out; which [now] there are a lot of artists working and utilizing the Internet. We can easily become a Nashville or a Austin because we’re in the center of like everything.


So your style of music what influenced that? I kind of hear a little bit of the regular more clean rap. You can understand what you’re saying and you understand every lyric, which kind of takes me back to artists like MC Lyte you know to the days of Queen Latifah.

I like, which everybody feels is elementary but I like the early hip hop stuff where you know what they’re saying and like the rhyme scheme is very easy.

And they’re telling you a story.

Yes, like that kind of stuff. I don’t know, it was just easy for me to get into.

So what brought that on, how did you pick that up?

I honestly don’t know. I mean I listen to… I don’t know like who does that? Who even does that style of rap? I was saying earlier [how] Lady Mecca from Digable Planets, I like how easy her flow was and how smooth her voice was just over tracks. Even JJ Fad with Supersonic that shit is fire, like it’s easy, not too complex you just go with the beat.


With your style which is different and I like it by the way; I think it’s going to go far, what are you looking to add to music? Are you looking to have others follow you into that era when hip hop was simple?

Not necessarily I just want to do what I want to do and if people like it and want to do the same thing then cool, but I don’t understand why people don’t like that style of rap. I mean like going super hard and being super lyrical that’s tight, it’s cool, and you have to have like some real fucking talent to do that; but also I’m just like that’s where rap music started.

So have you been getting a lot of backlash from it, is that what it is?

Not a lot but I mean people do be like “Ah this is elementary” and I’m like so.

Don’t worry about them. There’s always going to be naysayers saying whatever they want to say. It’s different and people can catch on to it and you stand out which is what’s important.

Thank you.

So the L.A. life what did you experience there? Tell us about the good and the bad of being there compared to Arkansas? What did that bring about on your album?

The good is [that] I feel completely free when I’m in L.A. I feel like I can be whatever I want to be compared to [being in] Little Rock like you kind of have to be hard and you have to be tough for people to really truly support you and fuck with you. I mean they fuck with me because they’re like “oh okay she’s from the hometown,” but in L.A. I don’t feel like I have to restrain myself. I can just be free musically and as a person. Then also in L.A. I feel so out of place when I’m there sometimes. I just feel super…

Even up until now?

Well now I appreciate it a lot more, but when I first got there I felt really out of place.

Because it was a complete change.

Yes, and I had never been to L.A. before I moved there so it was like [a] culture shock.

So you just went straight there?


Oh, wow!

I was culture shocked like crazy.

So you went there knowing that you wanted to pursue music, that’s what made you make the move?

I was already making music.

Yes, you were making music of course, but you went to L.A. for better opportunities?


So what can we expect from the project?

A lot of honesty, vulnerability. It’s a lot of different like there’s no one genre. There [are] jazz influences, funk influences, disco influences, and west coast influences. I think it’s a really fun album. Even the saddest song on there is like “Oh yea this shit rides.”

What’s the meaning of the title of Lost in Los Angeles?

So basically Lost in Los Angeles is trying to find yourself in a new place. When you’re in your hometown you know who you are, everybody knows who you are. You worked to establish yourself, [you’re committed] to being this person. Once you’re taken out of your element where you’re most comfortable and you’re put somewhere else you kind of have to figure out who you are again. You have different elements coming into play and you’re like wait and you ask yourself “Is this who I am?” or  “Is this what I stand for?” or “Do I like myself?” You know all these different things so that’s just kind of where I was, just questioning myself and I got an album out of it.

As far as your next project is there anyone you want to collaborate with? Are there any artist out right now that you think would be dope to work with?

I really want to work with Michael Christmas. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Michael Christmas, he’s a dude from Boston and there’s this other dude from Boston named Cousin Stizz who’s really dope. But I haven’t really thought about it. I do want to do more features [on] my next project.

What about producers?

I don’t know. I’m very like me and him have good chemistry, we have a good thing. I do want to work with other producers but I’m not like…

You won’t get mad if she works with other producers, right?

Naw, he actually encourages me to work with other people,but I’m just so…

You’re used to a certain sound, correct?

Yes, exactly.

I get it, I totally get it. So explain your style. I see you change up your hair every now and then.

I change up my hair like every week.

I saw pictures of you with braids in the short bob, and then I see your hair now, and I think I saw another picture of you with your hair out.

I’ve been wearing my hair like this. I’m trying to keep my hair like this for a while because I’m actually trying to grow a afro a big afro. My hair is natural under this so, but I have commitment issues when it comes to styles, cities, people. That’s just how it is sometimes.

So how is your style would you describe it as retro?

It’s whatever I’m feeling that day or that week or that month it just switches up, it changes [but] I’m trying to be better about having a consistent style.

So as far as what you’re doing now with the music and everything that’s going on, are you in a good place right now where you think you can kind of soar musically, and get to where you need to be?

Since the album came out I’m just like I just want to rap and I’ve been just been writing little raps or whatever. I had like a session with a producer the other day and walked out of there with like two amazing beats so I’m excited about the future. I’m very excited. I think it’s going to be really, really cool.

How did the album come into being?

Most of the songs were ideas [I had] or he would make something and I would go “Oh I know exactly what this could be and I would write something, [Sometimes] I would already have something written and then I would bring it to him and he would just make something. Then I would make my words fit to the beat basically. I started to learn to write without the music, which I feel is better for me because [at times] writing to the music I feel like I was being bound by the music. Kind of like “Oh no this has to go right here.”  I just [decided to] start just writing stuff and then just making it fit just later on.

So you’re from Arkansas as well?


So you guys pretty much moved to L.A. together?


So how long have you guys been working together?

Since 2011, so five years.


I heard “This Right Here.” How did that song come about?

His Dad’s from L.A. so his family came out for Christmas the year before last. So he made this beat and his brother came in there and was like, “Hold my fucking phone this right here my song” and we all just started saying it together and I was like “I’m gonna make a song out of that.” He was like “Alright, bet.” He got like a writers credit on my album and everything. It’s pretty cool.

Explain the video is that your normal day to day or kind of like cookout party situation because I saw kids on one side playing in the living room?

No, that’s not a very normal situation. Well the thing is when I’m in LA my manager takes me to these parties with his friends so yea I guess it is kind of when I’m in LA and I’m with his friends and stuff they have like kids and they be cooking it be cool, it be fun.


Photo Credit: Bernard “Beanz” Smalls 

Follow Kari Faux

Twitter & IG: @KariFaux





FLY Interviews Videos

Fly Interview: Omar Epps and Will Packer talk ‘Almost Christmas’, Being on Set, The Importance of Family, and More [SFPL Exclusive]

The holiday season is upon us and there’s one film with its sights set on becoming a holiday classic. Almost Christmas, the new family holiday comedy from writer/director David Talbert and producer Will Packer, follows Walter the patriarch of the Meyers family as he attempts to keep his family together after the death of the family matriarch. His wish is for everyone to get along under the same roof for five days without killing each other which proves to be no easy task.

Starring Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union, Kimberly Elise, Romany Malco, Jessie T. Usher, Mo’Nique, Omar Epps, JB Smoove, Nicole Ari Parker, John Michael Higgins, Keri Hilson and D.C. Young Fly the movie delivers the laughs and drama making it a holiday film everyone can relate to.

SFPL‘s own Arlene Danna chatted with producer Will Packer and Omar Epps who plays the neighbor next door Malachi, and has hopes of rekindling his romance with Rachel portrayed by Gabriel Union. Packer and Epps dished on how the movie came to be, working with comedic masterminds Mo’Nique and J.B. Smoove, being on set, as well as the importance of family especially during the holidays.


Loved the movie. Could you briefly tell us about the film, your character, and his role in the film?

Epps: What I loved about the film is how they flipped the usual storyline. Normally, it’s the patriarch who passes, and it’s the mother who holds it all together.  It’s about love, family, and the trial and tribulations that come with that. Everyone will be able to relate because we all come from family, we all have our own interpersonal relationships. So and so doesn’t get along with such and such and oh here comes crazy uncle so and so. My character grew up with the family. He’s known them his whole life and he’s back home visiting as well. He has some history with Gabriel Union’s character Rachel who has been holding onto a grudge all these years over a misunderstanding.

The scene where you’re helping Gabriel Union’s character squeeze in through the window was it hard to keep a straight face? We’re you guys able to bang it out or did it take a few takes.

Epps: Oh yes, that was a good one. We did do it a couple of times but we banged it out rather quickly. Gabi was only going to fall in through that window but so many times. [Laughs]

Malachi (OMAR EPPS) reconnects with Rachel (GABRIELLE UNION) and the rest of the family in "Almost Christmas." The new comedy from writer/director David E. Talbert and producer Will Packer tells the festive story of a beloved patriarch who asks his family for one gift this holiday season: to get along. If they can honor that wish and spend five days under the same roof without killing one another, it will be a Christmas miracle.
Malachi (OMAR EPPS) reconnects with Rachel (GABRIELLE UNION) and the rest of the family in “Almost Christmas.”

The chemistry between everyone definitely shows on-screen. How was it being on set? Did you guys play any practical jokes on each other? Any memorable moments? 

Epps: Gabi and I have known each other for years so we had that synergy throughout the whole film. Everyone was great though. There was so much respect on set. There weren’t necessarily practical jokes but we formed this camaraderie and we shared a lot of laughs. Some of the most memorable moments for me were watching the scenes I wasn’t in. Mo’Nique and J.B. are hilarious. It was great to see them do their thing.

What 5 fly things are you looking forward to receiving this Christmas?

Epps: Well I don’t really care about getting anything for Christmas. For me it’s more about getting to spend time with my family and making it special for my kids. So I’m just really looking forward to getting this family time in.

A Meyers Christmas

Hi Will. I’m a fan of your work. Absolutely loved the film. At the end everyone including myself stood up and applauded.

Packer: Wow, really. Thank you, that’s great. It means a lot.

Almost Christmas is your second holiday film. Going into it was making sure it was noticeably different from This Christmas something you always had in the back of your mind?

Packer: Not really. You know This Christmas is one of my favorite movies that I’ve made. It’s one of those movies that audiences really responded to. It shows on cable TV every year. People will hit me and go, “When are you going to do a sequel? We want another Christmas movie.” Dave sent me a script at the perfect time, but it was about a family coming together around Thanksgiving after the death of the matriarch. I called him and I said, “Dave, I love it. I’ve got one note for you. Let’s make it Christmas instead of Thanksgiving, and let’s go make this movie.” He said, “All right. I’m in.” If you’re going to make a holiday movie it has to be about the biggest holiday of all. You can avoid people all year-long, but Christmas is the one time that you’ve gotta spend time with the folks you haven’t seen since last Christmas, and that’s true for a lot of families. After that the first person I called was Gabrielle Union. I’ve known Gab for a while and we’ve done a bunch of projects together in the past. I called her up and I go, “Gee, what do you think? I think this is the one we should do. We should produce it together.” She goes, “I’m in,” and everything just started moving from there.

You mentioned immediately reaching out to Gabriel. Prior to shooting the film did you have other people in mind for the cast as well? It’s clear the cast had great chemistry it really translated on-screen. J.B. Smoove and Mo’Nique did a superb job of bringing the laughs. 

Packer: Gabi was really the anchor that helped attract the rest of the cast. Danny Glover is a legend. Everyone was great. Nicole Ari Parker, Omar Epps, Mo’Nique, J.B. SmooveKimberly Elise, Romany Malco, they all did such an amazing job. We even have these up and comers representing the younger generation with Jessie T. Usher, and D.C. Young Fly.  The cast was able to really embody these characters and tell the story of this family that I feel will definitely resonate with audiences.


My favorite scene was the scene with everyone gathered around the table for Christmas dinner. There were so many layers and as it progressed the comedy just got bigger and bigger. The kids also really stole the show, I think. I loved them texting back and forth with all the emoji’s and how they set-up the phone so they wouldn’t miss any of the action. How was it capturing that scene? How did everything come together? Was it written that way originally or was there some improvisation?

Packer: I have to give props to Dave for making a really solid script. The smart thing that Dave did was that he allowed his actors to embody the characters in their own way and to bring their own perspective and nuances to the characters. In the specific scene I thought it was important to include the kids texting because that’s actually what would be taking place. The way that scene was shot is how you see it, that scene is continuously moving. The transition from the dining room to the kitchen and back again was flawless. It was shot that way intentionally. We didn’t shoot the dining room and cut then go to the kitchen. We wanted it to progress naturally and the end result was better than we had imagined.

What does fly mean to you?

Packer: To me fly means being unapologetically you. Fly means standing by your convictions and making your own path. Fly is about setting your sights on something and never wavering from accomplishing it.

What are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Packer: I love the holidays. I love family movies. My immediate family is small. I have one sister, and I grew up with both my parents. Family was always very important. The holidays were the time when all the extended family would get together. I did grow up in the South. I grew up with a great sense of culture and tradition and all of that. So I’m just really looking forward to the time off and getting to spend that time with family. Work keeps me really busy so it’s nice to get a break and get that quality time in.

Almost Christmas opens in theaters Friday Nov. 11. Watch the trailer below and don’t miss out on a film destined to be a staple family Christmas movie for year’s to come. 

FLY Interviews SFPL TV

Fly Interview: Julissa Bermudez Talks ‘Ringside’, Maxwell, Reality TV and more

[anvplayer video=”4244286″]

Recently, actress-model-host Julissa Bermudez sat down with SFPL TV to discuss her role in the upcoming original TV One movie exclusive, Ringside starring Tyler Lepley, Sevyn Streeter, Jackie Long, Tequan Richmond and more.

In the movie, Julissa plays a feisty Latina woman by the name of “Carmen Santiago,” whose the love interest of “Jaxon” (Tyler Lepley). Bermudez did admit that she was a little hesitant of the role at first, but then found the role to be exciting.

Being asked our tricky question of: “If you were stuck on an island, what 5 albums would you choose to have with you?”, you may be surprised by a certain artist that Julissa mentions. Hmmmmm…peep the full interview to find out!

Check out the clip above.

Don’t forget to tune into ‘Ringside’ on TV One this Sunday at 7/6c.

FLY Interviews Music

Fly Interview: American Idol’s Tyanna Jones Dishes on Opening For Babyface, New EP, and Time On Idol

Tyanna Jones recently sat down with SFPL along with her Mom Tamara and sister Tiara to discuss what the American Idol alum has been up to since departing the reality singing competition. The 17-year-old’s raw talent made her standout on the 14th season of the singing competition that has birthed stars like Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson, and Carrie Underwood. After making it to the top five Jones was eliminated, an experience that didn’t dampen her spirits or deter the pursuit of her dream.
Tyanna’s undeniable talent and with her Momager in her corner, she is well on her way to becoming a household name. Continue reading below to learn about what the Jacksonville, FL native has been up to, some of her fondest memories from being on the show, and what we can expect from her musically.


What have you been up to since American Idol?

I’ve been doing a lot it hasn’t stopped.
So you opened up for Babyface how was that?
Yes, it was exciting. It was in Albany Georgia and I went down there and actually we were getting ready for the show and I was supposed to do a rehearsal; but we got there late so I didn’t even get to do a rehearsal. I was just like you know what we’re still going to kill it. It was me and my two backup singers and I went out there and I sung. The crowd was amazing. They responded really well to it and of course Babyface was flawless. I didn’t realize that he had written so many hits, the songs he was singing I was like he wrote that. It was cool though, I really appreciated it.
So do you hope to connect with him one day in the studio? 
Absolutely that would be amazing I was actually trying my hardest to get his attention but he waved to me and he said hello. I really hope that one day I really get the opportunity to sit down with him face-to-face and collaborate that would be awesome.
I know you probably get asked this question a lot but who are your musical influences?
I have a lot. Prince, Michael Jackson, Rihanna, of course Beyoncé. I actually have, for each genre I have a different person so it’s kind of scattered all over the place. You’ll actually hear that on my EP none of the songs [are the same], it’s all different. I actually have a song that I wrote she doesn’t know yet. It’s a country song but it’s kind of cool.
Mom: Well that sounds interesting.
Are you Momager?
Mom: Yes I am. I multitask a little bit. [Laughs]
So what’s the name of the EP?
The EP is called Sound Waves. Me and my mom actually came up with it. We were sitting at my aunt’s house and she goes we have to come up with a name for this thing we can’t just keep saying your EP. So I was like okay well I want it to have something to do with vibes because I feed off of people’s energies. If you’re in a room with someone and they’re sad eventually you’re going to become sad just because of the energy that’s being brought in. So my Mom goes, “What about sound waves?” and I was like okay why? And she goes, “Because none of your songs are going to sound the same. It’s kind of like you have all of these different sounds and sounds are waves” and then I went that’s perfect! You know that fits beautifully with everything.
So Mom came up with Sound Waves?
Mom: I did. I do what I can. [Laughs] I get enough credit so to speak for having these amazing kids so I’m all for just watching them blossom and do what they do. Tiara sometimes sings backup for Tyanna.
Oh you do, you sing too? Where were you during her performance? You’re supposed to be holding on to her. 
[Everyone laughs]
She sings but she’s a visual artist she’s doing her own thing.
So the music side obviously comes from you Mom not Dad.
Mom: Completely.
Dad can’t sing at all.
Mom: I love my husband a lot but not even a little bit.
So can you sing too?
Mom: I do sing.
We heard you harmonizing. You were on key too so you know what you’re doing. 
[Everyone laughs]
Mom: You know I do what I can do wherever I fit in. [Laughs] I think that EP is going to be crazy. Just watching Tyanna blossom from the show up until this point has been amazing. It’s kind of hard when you’re in the moment but when we got home and I kind of looked back through the video sit’s like holy’s insane to watch that first audition where she was so shy.  she’s really introverted around strangers so for weeks on the show the other kids would like to and she would literally be sitting on my lap like literally sitting in my lap. But as she began to open up and everything it just became like a family on the show. We caught up with Kaseem while here in New York, he was one of the guys on the show and he will be playing for her while she’s here doing a couple of things.  it’s been an amazing adventure
What was your favorite American Idol performance? You killed a couple of them, I know you did Rihanna and B. You did “Love on Top” right?
Mom: The training for that was crazy.
Talk about that process. “Love on Top” is a very difficult song. 
It’s funny because I had experience singing it because for my mother and father’s 20th anniversary we got on stage and did that song and I had a part in the beginning where I was just screaming at the top of my lungs because we had no microphone. When we got back from that my mom was like you should try out [for American Idol] and do  “Love On Top.” I am out there it’s cold; I have a scarf, sweatshirt, slip hand socks doubled up. So I’m running I’m running I’m running and she’s like okay stop sing. Then it’s go, go, go, and I’m running, running, running, then again stop sing. She wouldn’t let me stop until I got it right. It definitely got me ready.
Well it definitely worked out, you were phenomenal on American Idol. It’s not an easy song to sing and you did an amazing job. 
Thank you.
Mom: Yes, she killed it!
Have any of your inspirations responded to you at all? I know you said Rihanna…
Janelle Monáe did. When I did “Tightrope” on the show. Actually when she came on the show for the finale she waved and was like “Hi, hi.” she was really sweet about me performing the song. As an artist when you’re using other people’s songs if they see it you’re like in heaven and you say to yourself please just let them like it because you don’t want them to be like you completely ruined the song but she liked it and I was so happy about it.
Mom: The response from The Jacksons to was awesome just with them being there and watching the rehearsals they literally we’re in a room, I have it on video; teaching her the steps to the medley that they did.
You must have been really into that Mom. 
Mom: I was eating cheese on a stick  with Marlon and Tito and I was like yas Jacksons. [Laughs] I was in a CVS and in walks Ron and he was like “Hey Tami,” and I was just like what.
That was actually my favorite performance. They were so welcoming. What we would do is we’d be in the dressing room going over the moves. Marlon was helping me with the moves and Tito he barely talked he was just sitting back with his guitar. Tito would walk up out of nowhere while Marlon is teaching me the moves and he’d go that’s not right. Then Marlon would be like well show me what it was. They were such a family it was as cute as it can be.
You did a cover of Alessia Cara too.
Oh yes. She’s actually one of my inspirations too because she’s so young and she writes about actual things that young people go through in their lives and that’s needed. I did a cover of her song “Seventeen” and she was like, “That was a beautiful cover you did” and I was just like “Aww that’s sweet.”
Is there a date for the EP?
Mom: No we haven’t set a date yet because we want to make sure that everything is right.  we don’t want to push something out for the sake of putting something out there because we need this thing to take off.  she definitely has the talent, the will, the attitude and the spirit that just draws young black girls.  She gets it all the time when they see her. “We love your natural hair,”  you know and they love that she loves the skin that she’s in. So that’s what we’re all about and we just want to keep moving forward.
We really encourage you to just keep doing what you’re doing. Life after that can be very difficult and I think that a lot of people who have that type of American Idol fame they just sit and wait for things to happen and they don’t put themselves out there to make it happen. Even when you’re signed to a major you always have to have the mindset of an independent artist and always do a lot of things on your own so that you’re not tricked into doing something you really don’t want to do. So when it does come time you already have the plan and everything is already mapped out. 
I really appreciate that, that’s definitely the plan. Thank you so much!
We are excited to hear Tyanna’s upcoming EP Sound Waves. In the meantime check out her cover of Alessia Cara’s “Seventeen” below.
Stay up-to-date on what Tyanna’s has going on, on Twitter and Instagram: @IAmTyannaJones.

Entertainment FLY Interviews

FLY Interviews: Ato Essandoh Talks Jason Bourne, Big Brother Watching, Diversity In Hollywood and More In Exclusive Interview.


to Essandoh is quickly becoming a household name when it comes to rising black stars in Hollywood. Essandoh is building quite the resume currently starring in HBO’s new hit show Vinyl and past roles on Girls, Elementary, Blue Bloods, Copper on BBC, Django Unchained and Blood Diamond just to name a few. Now he can add Jason Bourne to that growing list of films.

SFPL’s own Bernard Beanz Smalls caught up with the actor to discuss his upcoming role in film based off the popular Robert Ludlum books. He also touched on the government watching us through various forms of technology (cellphones, computers), diversity in Hollywood, working with Tommy Lee Jones and Matt Damon and more. Step into our exclusive interview with the amazing actor below.




First of all I loved the movie. Great performance. Tell me about your character in Jason Bourne.

Thanks man. I play Craig Jeffers, he is the right hand man of Tommie Lee Jones’ who plays the director of the C.I.A.. I’m basically a company man, a patriot, and I’m a true believer. Then suddenly I’m confronted which you don’t see a lot of in the movie because it’s an action movie and not a drama but, suddenly I’m supplanted by Heather Lee; which is Alicia Vikander’s character, and it’s the difference between the old school C.I.A. and what now is the new world that were facing these days.

Tommy Lee Jones and Alicia Vakander in Jason Bourne

Where it’s more a war about information rather than the usual wet work war of going into a place and blowing it up. That’s the dynamic we’re seeing between Jeffers and Heather Lee and essentially Tommie Lee Jones’s character and Heather Lee; the old C.I.A. versus the new C.I.A..


Awesome! That was actually one of my questions. I see this movie more kind of like “big brother” watching you. Do you ever think about that? Does it cross your mind? You know with the monitoring of your cellphone because there was a lot of cool but at the same time scary things like, the facial recognition technology.

It always comes to mind because there were often times on set where I would ask if this was actually real technology or we made it for the movie and Paul Greengrass would actually say no this is stuff people are already doing and it’s already possible, it’s been possible. So it’s scary but it’s also fascinating because the evolution of technology throughout human history has always caused us to reflect on our own humanity and what it means to exist in this world as a society. I think we’re at a tipping point that no other human society has been in ever in the 200,000 years that we have been humans. So we’re now faced with huge moral quandaries about what this power is giving us and what that means for us as individuals. It’s even questioning what privacy means anymore. When we even with all of this technology, we are willingly putting up our entire lives digitally on whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or any of the other technologies out there. It’s like on one side some of us want to keep our privacy but on the other side we’re posting everything on Facebook. Corporations are seeing this and using that as a way to market to us and sell us products or surveil us and it’s a very interesting place that we are in society today.

Very true, very true. I’m a huge fan of the Bourne franchise. I was very excited to see Jason Bourne was back. Are you a fan of the franchise? Have you seen any of the films prior to taking this role?

Yes! Those are the kind of movies where they’ll show it on TBS and even with commercials I’ll still watch it. What I loved about the franchise before is the mystery of a guy who has no memory but has all this incredible skills and is so resourceful he can kill you with some lipstick and a piece of paper, you know what I’m saying. I love the evolution and what I love about this movie is that now you see him when he’s older and maybe a little slower and now you know a little bit more about him so how does this older, more damaged Jason Bourne negotiate through this new world. Again we’re looking at this old world that he’s been a part of and now this new threat which is the informational threat; the more femoral digital threat that were all facing today.

I agree. Matt Damon is pretty amazing as Jason Bourne. It’s almost surprising to see him do all of things because you don’t really think of him as this action star. How was it working with Matt?

The man is a good dude. He’s sort of the trope of the guy you’d like to get a beer with. He’s an ultra famous guy and he’s really, really laid back. I mean there was one time, you know he’s Jason Bourne and Jason Bourne is supposed to be all sneaky and can disappear at a moments notice and we’re filming in a Las Vegas casino; it’s Alicia, I, and Matt trying to film this scene with a bunch of extras along with the people in the casino, and we call action and he’s being sneaky Jason Bourne; but everyone’s trying to record him on their cellphones as he’s walking by.

Matt Damon as Jason Bourne
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne

So you see the dynamic where Matt Damon can’t go anywhere. Jason Bourne is supposed to be able to go anywhere, but Matt Damon cannot. He played it cool, just real laid back, real professional; I loved chasing him around in a casino in Vegas.

How was it working beside Tommie Lee Jones who was your character’s boss in the movie?

Tommie Lee Jones is a legend. He is one of those straight talking dudes and he can bring it anytime he wants. He’s one of my favorite actors from back in the day and he likes to tell a lot of stories. One of the great stories he told me, he looked over to me and he goes you know what, years ago he was doing soap operas. This is how long this guy’s been in the business.

Tommy Lee Jones and Ato Essandoh in Jason Bourne

So he was playing a doctor in a soap opera and he had a bunch of scenes with a 5-year-old kid and he goes you know who that 5-year-old was? Laurence Fishburne. I said man Laurence Fishburne when he was 5-years-old. He’s a legend. He’s a real funny, sharp, witty guy so it was a lot of fun to work with him.


It would have been funnier if he said like Morgan Freeman. The whole joke that we’ve never seen Morgan Freeman when he was young. 

I know. I would have been shocked man.

How did you prepare for the role? Did you have training?

I knew I’d be running around a little bit so I was working out at the gym and just running on the treadmill, which helped because that scene where I’m chasing Bourne around the casino that ended up being hours and hours of shooting. Running down, chasing Matt Damon and literally jumping over people who I didn’t recognize, so if I hadn’t been stretching, working out, and doing some yoga I would be broken, it was hard. This is my first action movie. Action movies are hard; it’s no joke.


The Matt Damon’s, Will Smith’s, and Bruce Willis’ of the world, that stuff is really hard to do. We don’t appreciate it because we don’t really think about it, but you have to be in a certain amount of shape and have certain stamina to be able to do all of that stuff. It’s not like a coffee-room drama where you’re just siting there talking to someone at a coffee table. This is straight up running and acting, and you’re tired and you have to do it again because you need to get it from a new angle. It was really eye-opening for me. I’m not ready to do another one.

I can imagine, I’m sure. The blog I work for is called Stuff Fly People Like. So if you were an agent give me three fly gadgets you’d want in the field.

Night vision goggles is number one. Some kind of mini-drone that can fly anywhere, that’s smaller than a cellphone with x-ray vision would be number two. The third one, I’d want one of those wing suits so if I have to get away from some people and I just happen to be on top of a mountain I’d just jump off the mountain and be like fly!

That’s sounds like a video game character, it really does. Now, the Academy announced they’re taking steps to build diversity. Recently they invited the largest number into the Academy, 683; and 48% of the invitees are people of color and 46% are women. Do you feel Hollywood is finally going in the right direction? Do you feel this is a big step?

Absolutely, because it doesn’t make sense for it to be a monoculture because everyone goes to see movies. I would understand if only white people went to see movies and only white straight men went to see movies but we need the diversity and the organicness that’s a representation of an array of people. The people who are controlling the industry and moving the industry forward need to represent the actual people who go and see the movies. So it makes complete sense that you get a whole bunch of women in there and a whole bunch of people of color in there because we’re also going into those movie theaters and paying for those tickets.

What was it like working with Paul Greengrass? How was the experience?

I had to bone up on my knowledge of English premier league soccer because although I love watching football I don’t know all the teams in England. If you don’t know all the teams in England he kind of looks at you like, “who are you?” He’s a lovely guy with infinite patience and it was great working with him. I just kept looking at him like I can’t believe I’m in a Bourne movie with Paul Greengrass directing it and he’d just be like, “Aww man, come on.”

Paul Greengrass Image copyright Getty Images
Paul Greengrass Image copyright Getty Images

I still email him every once in a while just to say, “Hey what’s up?” He’s just that sort of open, and cool, and nice. I think he’s a great, great filmmaker. I know I’m in it so I’m suppose to say this, but I really think it’s one of the best action movies I’ve seen in a long time.


Yes, I agree with you. It was really good.  

All the stuff that happens in the movie they’re not just doing just to show you that they can blow up stuff or they can have car chases. Everything that happens in the movie is for a reason. Which is unlike other action films where you can tell they’re blowing crap up because they want to show you they can blow crap up, so it stops making sense. You lose all the suspense because all of that stuff is going to blow up just to show you, but this is like Jason Bourne has to get from here to here. This is what he has to do to get there. It makes for great story telling. Greengrass has a fantastic eye for that.

Jason Bourne hits theaters this FRIDAY, stay tuned for our FLY Review of Bourne’s latest adventure.

Stay Fly!

PHOTOS: Getty Images, Universal Pictures


Summer 16 At The Movies: 11 FLY Movies To Checkout This Summer








Entertainment FLY Interviews Television Videos

Fly Interview: Malik Yoba Is Unstoppable; Speaks On Film Projects, His Company Iconic 32, and More

Malik Yoba is a man of many talents. An actor, producer, writer, author, philanthropist, and marketing guru; he’s dedicated his life to using his successes in life to promote change and do good. In our interview with the multifaceted star he delves into his current projects, views on the responsibility of artists, thoughts on Jesse William’s Humanitarian Award acceptance speech, and who he’ll be supporting in the upcoming Presidential election in November.

Audiences haven’t seen you on their TV screens since your character Vernon Davis was killed during the Season 1 finale of Empire, tell us what have you been up to?

I’ve been running the world. [Laughs] I have been very busy with the company I co-founded Iconic 32. It’s a branding and marketing company that works at the intersection of pop culture and social good. At this point in my career it’s more about being the boss. I’m working on several projects. There’s Little Brother a series of short documentaries being shot in different cities that focuses on black boys and love. From an executive producer and writer perspective just busy creating and working content. Iconic 32 is working with TV One. Our relationship with TV One is growing, and we did movie the Bad Dad Rehab. The movie follows four fathers who have a lot of growing up to do as fathers and men. On their journey of maturity, the men find themselves enrolled in a focus group that supports men striving to become better fathers and men. This subject matter makes what we’re doing together really important. They’re this small scrappy network and I’m really proud of their new direction. It’s been a great couple of months getting to not only do the film, but being a part of the strategy. We knew we had something special at the American Black Film Festival. We’ve had screenings and you see the impact. In Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco, Florida, New York we hear from community groups and churches. I spoke with DJ Kut in St. Louis from 95.5 he goes “Why’d you do that to us” and then he tells me everyone was in tears. There’s power in that, it’s resonated with so many people.

The Cast of ‘Bad Dad Rehab’ at the ABFF Premiere. From left to right Rick Gonzalez, Wesley Jonathan, Malik Yoba, Rob Riley, and Robert Ri’chard.

You’re really dedicated to telling the stories of black fathers. This is the focus of Daddy Don’t Go,  the documentary you executive produced with Omar Epps, can you tell us more about it? 

Daddy Don’t Go is something we worked on for a couple of years. The response has been amazing. That and Bad Dad Rehab were both in ABFF (American Black Film Festival) at the same time. It follows four economically challenged young men over the course of two years who ride for their kids despite all the odds, always doing the best they can for their children. Part of the narrative that we don’t hear a lot of. What you hear all the time is about what men don’t do; but these guys really ride hard for their kids. I think that’s an important message to put out there. It’s funny I mentioned the reception around the country, I was on the phone with a woman from London who came to the screening in Miami. So we’re making arrangements for me and some of the other casts members to go to London. Same thing in South Africa. Someone else saw the film that wants us over there. So it also has a global appeal just like Bad Dad Rehab.

Poster for ‘Daddy Don’t Go’ Documentary

It’s clear that you’re passionate about the work you do in the community. How do you feel about Jesse Williams’s speech at the BET Awards? 

I loved it. What I love about that is that the Humanitarian Award speech has gotten more love than any performance and that’s why we do what we do. Jesse, we’ve met over the last few years and he’s been very involved so I’m not surprised. He’s a very articulate and passionate dude. I’m very happy that people are paying attention, that’s a true artist. Make no mistake about it that was written and scripted and he delivered it like a great performer should. There are those of us that are very proud to pass the baton.

I was interviewing John Lewis last weekend in Washington, D.C. at a scholarship gala. In 1989 I was a part of the 25th Anniversary of the Freedom Ride. John Lewis was one of the original 13 Freedom Riders. I used to wear the uniform; blue overalls, a white t-shirt, and old school glasses. I’m 21 years-old, the same age he was when he joined the Civil Rights Movement and we were talking about how do you bring the Civil Rights Movement into today.

Jesse Williams at the 2016 BET Awards during his acceptance of the Humanitarian Award
Jesse Williams at the 2016 BET Awards during his acceptance of the Humanitarian Award

There were some young men and woman who were receiving scholarships or a part of our youth Phi Beta club for the kids. So in this situation where young people are sitting in the back of the room and this is a room of about 400 people; I moved them to the front and had them sit on the floor in front of the stage literally on the floor. I drew the connection between the fact that this man John Lewis was just leading a sit in a few days earlier in Congress and he hadn’t done that in 53 years. Here are these young people who have no idea who he is, but it was like a fireside chat with grandpa and he was able to pass on the knowledge. I said to him that’s where I was at 21 years-old, now I’m 48 and the youngest kid in that room was 7 years-old. When they shook his hand knowing this was the same hand that shook Martin Luther King’s hand, and then he told the story about what it was like to meet King for the first time; if you could see the look on these kids faces like “Oh my god” it was as if they had died and gone to heaven. That’s what it’s about. It’s about understanding our place in the matrix, using our gifts to make a difference; if we’re artists as Paul Robeson said we’re gatekeepers of truth. So whether it’s Jesse doing his thing or, whomever we’re all here to inspire and to motivate people and to move the needle. We’re not here just to entertain, make money, and to wear fancy clothes. People are suffering, especially now. With the political climate, race relations in America, and hatred in the world; we have to be the counterbalance.

Who will you be voting for in the upcoming election, if it’s you don’t mind me asking?

I think it’s time based on who we have in front of us, it’s time we had a female President.


Bad Dad Rehab premiered Sunday July 3 on TV One. If you missed it you can watch the first 30 minutes below. To catch the remainder of the film lookout for encore showings or screenings and make sure to pick it up when it’s released on DVD.

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Entertainment FLY Interviews

NBA Rookie Of The Year Karl-Anthony Towns Talks Verizon Partnership, Technology, & Upcoming Season At The 2016 ESSENCE Festival

The annual ESSENCE Festival took place in New Orleans, LA over the holiday weekend. Like previous year’s the festival included live musical performances, discussions, addresses, and so much more.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jim Mone
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jim Mone

Among those in attendance this weekend was the NBA’s 2016 Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns. Towns, in partnership with Verizon took part in #VerizonInspires; which featured meet and greets, panel discussions, and of course music. In an effort to inspire tomorrow’s creators an innovative learning hub was created where attendees could tinker with the latest technological devices, charge up their phones, and win prizes.

Before Town’s sat down to talk with SFPL‘s own Gabriel Williams he oversaw a running man challenge face-off between a few of the teens in attendance. After wrapping up the brief competition the Minnesota Timberwolves center discussed partnering with Verizon, his experience with technology, and even divulged on who he was looking forward to seeing perform. Peep the full interview below and don’t forget to check out our recap of the ESSENCE Festival weekend.

What brings you here tonight?

I’m here helping Verizon with a mentoring program they have that teaches kids how to use technology to their advantage. You know technology is something that the culture and community is changing with, it’s become something of a necessity not even a luxury anymore. Just trying to teach these kids the technology that’s out there and also have them accommodate to it.

How familiar are you with technology? Can you build websites or do anything specific that we should know about?

Yes. I’ve been blessed to have a school system that’s helped me utilize technology to my advantage. Computer classes, typing, making websites, and having an after-school program that helped me learn how to use [technology] better. These things have tremendously helped me in my career.

Reaching this point in your career did you ever think you’d be working with Verizon? How does that feel?

You know it’s amazing. I’ve been a Verizon customer not even a brand ambassador since I was young. Since I had my first cellphone, I’ve had Verizon so it’s amazing to think that after all these years  now I’m representing the company and it’s a blessing and an honor to represent such a great company that I personally use myself.

Is this your first time at ESSENCE Fest?

Yes, it’s my first time ever. Hopefully it won’t be my last.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 03: Puff Daddy performs at the 2016 ESSENCE festival at the Superdome on July 3, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo Credit: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images)
Puff Daddy performs at the 2016 ESSENCE festival at the Superdome on July 3, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Photo Credit: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images

Who are you looking forward to performing?

You know they have a lot of great performers. Andra Day killed it out there. Ciara is right now killing it. I’m really excited actually to see the last two. It’s more of my area, Puff Daddy and The Family. Being from the New York area that’s something that everyone grows up with. So Puff Daddy is big with us especially with BIG being a part of the group once upon a time. For me also Kendrick Lamar. I’m a big Kendrick Lamar fan. I can’t wait to see him perform live, I’ve never seen him perform live so it’s going to be a very cool experience.

What else can we expect from you? What do you have coming up?

I have a lot of new things in my toolbox.  A lot of new tools. So I’m just going to utilize them to my advantage. I’m going to take those tools and you’re going to see a whole different player next year with the same type of game you saw last year.

If you were stuck on an island and you could only have three albums what albums would those be?

So I’m going to go the smart route. I’m going to take 2Pac Greatest Hits album the two disc set so that counts as one. I’ll take Chronic by Dr. Dre, and Good Kid Maad City by Kendrick. I’d put Drake’s Nothing Was The Same on there but I’d be too depressed the whole time being by myself. I need something to keep me going. I think those three. If I had honorable mentions I’d throw Kanye West Graduation and lastly I would pick Ice Cube KKK Most Wanted.


Congrats to Towns on earning this year’s NBA Rookie of the Year award. We can’t wait to see him hit the court when the new season starts. As always, stay fly.

FLY Interviews SFPL TV Videos

Jessie T. Usher Sits Down With SFPL TV, Dishes On ‘Independence Day: Resurgence’

Independence Day: Resurgence picks up 20 years after the catastrophic events of July 4, 1996. Jessie T. Usher portrays Dylan Hiller step-son to Marine pilot Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith). Dylan joins the military following in the footsteps of his father who has since passed. During this time Earth has dedicated a substantial amount of effort and resources to preparing for another alien attack which is a lot closer than they think.

Jessie T. Usher and Maika Monroe in 'Independence Day: Resurgence.' Photo Credit: Claudette Barius/20th Century Fox
Jessie T. Usher and Maika Monroe in ‘Independence Day: Resurgence.’
Photo Credit: Claudette Barius/20th Century Fox

SFPL‘s own Gabriel Williams sat down with Jessie T. Usher to discuss his role in the sequel to the box office smash. Usher shares what the role means to him, getting Will Smith’s blessing, and even humors us by answering a few unexpected questions.

Check out the full interview below and make sure you catch Independence Day: Resurgence in theaters tomorrow June 24.

[anvplayer video=”4244375″]

Entertainment FLY Interviews

Fly Interview: Iyanla Vanzant Talks Closing Out The ESSENCE Empowerment Series, Making Her Own Body Wash, & More


The 2016 ESSENCE Festival kicks off in a few weeks. The weekend will feature performances from some of the biggest names in music along with various events that cater to ESSENCE’s community. Among these is the ESSENCE Empowerment Experience, a series of conversations and keynote addresses with industry influencers from Tyra Banks, Misty Copeland, Terry McMillan, to Rev. Al Sharpton. Closing out this year’s ESSENCE Empowerment Experience will be Iyanla Vanzant.

Iyanla Vanzant at 2014 ESSENCE Festival
Iyanla Vanzant at 2014 ESSENCE Festival

A writer, life coach, and minister, Vanzant has been dishing out tough love on her OWN series Iyanla: Fix My Life for four seasons. A New York Times best-selling author and NAACP Image Award Winner, Vanzant has inspired millions around the globe to take control of their lives and be an active participant in finding their happiness.

SFPL‘s Arlene Danna recently chatted with Vanzant over the phone where they discussed her upcoming keynote address, how she creates her own body wash, the premiere of Season 5 of her critically acclaimed series Iyanla: Fix My Life, and her new book.

You’ve been a part of the Essence Empowerment Experience in the past, how does it feel to be welcomed back this year?

It’s such an honor. I’ve been doing it for the past 14 years and every year I love being a part of it. The experience touches on all the things impacting our community. This year they’ve asked me to close out the series and I’m looking forward to it.

What topic will you be speaking on to close out this year’s series?

You know I get asked that all the time and the answers always the same I don’t know. I don’t use cards or prepare anything ahead of time. I like to speak from the heart and see what the mood strikes. I do know I want to inspire and push people to put in the work to be their best selves.

You’re a huge proponent of living your best life physically, mentally, and spiritually. Is this what inspired you to create your own body wash?

Actually my daughter Gemmia inspired me. From an early age she became interested in essential oils and aromatherapy and how scents can alter your energies. We know how to do laundry, and clean house, but do we know how or even take the time to clear our own energies. The MasterPeace Body Wash is made from a mixture of herbs, oils, and African black soap which is known for its skin healing properties. I then treat it with music and color therapy. I love that I get to continue her desire to create natural products that not only enhance your energy, but address the needs of the physical body.

Iyanla Fix My Life has really resonated with audiences. What can we expect in Season 5?

I love that the show has touched the lives of some many people. Season 5 premieres this Fall on Sept. 9. You can expect this season to create, spark, and inspire national conversations about critical issues.

Sounds great, can’t wait for the show’s return. Are there any other projects you’re currently working on?

I’m working on my 19th book which will be out in 2017.

Wow, you’re on book 19! What will be the subject matter of the book?

How we can heal our toxic and dysfunctional feelings and behavior. People of color do not go to therapy. It is still very taboo. With this book I hope to enlighten people and help them get aligned with their greater good.

FLY Interviews SFPL TV

Fly Interview: Miki Howard and Teyonah Parris Discuss Howard’s New Biopic and Overcoming Struggles with SFPL TV

Singer Miki Howard and actress Teyonah Parris stopped by the studio earlier last week ago to discuss TV One’s upcoming biopic Love Under New Management: The Miki Howard Story. 

Parris is charged with playing Howard in the film that examines the talented singer’s career; both the ups and the downs along with her personal struggles. While sitting with SFPL TV the duo discuss the importance of sharing our stories, even our darkness ones in order to uplift and set the example that you are more than your circumstances and can overcome whatever you may be facing.

Love Under New Management: The Miki Howard Story premieres tonight at 8/7c on TV One as part of their Unsung series. In the meantime watch Howard and Parris talk the film and the process to make it below.

[anvplayer video=”4244405″]