tv Our World With Black Enterprise CW November 6, 2011 6:30am-7:00am EST
captions made possible by the u.s. department of education and central city productions, inc. hchcof the gregigi new voices performing at the black enterprise pepsi golf and tennis challenge is grammy-nominated singer and songwriter ledisi. i caught up with her a few hours before she took the stage. thanks for spending time with me
today. >> thank you for having me. >> i heard you're ready for the big show tonight. are you excited? >> i'm very excited. >> this has been a long run for you, i mean, for the last few weeks, last few months you've been everywhere. everywhere i look i see you. >> yeah, you know, god is good. >> every time i turn on the radio i hear not just about the album but i hear the actual songs. it's a huge hit. did you expect that to happen? >> not at all, not to this level. i knew something great would happen but not to this level. >> what do you attribute that to? this is not your first album. people say overnight success. no. you've put out studio albums. why is the radio taking notice and the public listening? >> i think it's the song writing. i focused more heavily on song writing for radio. i was very meticulous on this particular cd, and it's more intimate. i'm saying more honest and real things that people never heard from me, even the first song,
people don't know what i'm about, here it is. i'm going to tell you little pieces of who i am. so that, i think, has helped out a lot, being more authentic and real. >> critics are receiving it well. your last song got two grammy nominations. >> yes. >> you've gotten the attention of the public now. what was the journey like to get there, from the first album to this album? >> in the beginning it was more of the grind, concentrated on the grind, wanting to be successful and the people around me, i had the wrong kind of circles. and, you know, as anyone, you grow and you see what you want, but i almost gave up because of people saying you're not good enough. you don't have the look. or, you know, there's not have many people that look like me. you know, that i've seen. >> right. in the music industry you mean. >> in the music industry i mean. >> can you talk about that for a second? because you're obviously beautiful. >> thank you. >> and you're incredibly talented. but sometimes the industry has a particular idea what talent and
beauty look like. >> most definitely the whole natural hair thing is, like, not the image they like for me. they wanted me to be a certain way, be a certain size, talk about different things and shake around. i talk about -- you know, i talk about real things that people go through and more natural and organic things. and it resonates with people, so i'm glad they love it. >> and when you decided to interenter the music business, one of the things i thought was interesting is is you took control of your career in ways some people won't. you were the ceo, not just an artist. >> well, that was by force because everyone kept saying you're not good enough, you don't look a certain way, you're not a star. i had all these things going on. so i said, well, you know what, i'll watch what too short did, master p. at the time, see how they made it, how hip-hop artists did it, selling things out of trunk of their cars.
the first released "soulsinger" sold 160,000 units independently, and i put it out with a good friend of mine just by word of mouth. and people playedly albums. rychelle was a big influence on me. she started playing my music. same with her saying come to l.a. tomorrow. what? you guys open for me in l.a. that was my introduction in l.a. >> did you have a strong relationship with you before you met her? >> no. i met her briefly and i would go to her shows all the time. i was her little groupie in the back, i love her, i can't wait for my turn, i wish she could hear my music. it took years but it immediately helped. >> reached back. >> yes. a lot of artists don't do that, and now i'm doing it for other people because someone did it for me. patti labelle, chaka kahn, everyone, they've reached back and said we have to lift this girl up.
>> how does that feel, people like patti labelle? she didn't just lift you up. she said you are her successor. for her to say that. >> i have these aha moments. you know, you have celebrity friends and they forget that i'm still, like -- i'm, like, a groupie. so they're talking to me about things and i go, oh, my god in my brain, i'm talking to patti labelle! so it's always mind blowing to know that i can have friends like that and ask for advice and help me out in my journey. and patti always says, always be ready. you'll never have to get ready. you know? so everything is always together. so she taught me a lot about that. >> so if you had to give any advice to the next generation of artists or the next generation of young girls who are trying to do something big, what would you tell them? >> i would tell them to really understand who they are. know yourself, be yourself in every, you know, situation.
just, god, don't give up on your dreams, you know? write it down, envision it, see it every day around you, pray. and even when there's a no, no there's a yes eventually. >> coming up -- grammy award-winning artist wyclef jean and ne-yo. >> lauren, i apologize to you, you know, for everything that i did to you which was wrong. [ umpire ] strike 3. you're out!
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what surprised me was what he had to say to his former band mates, pridewell and lauryn hill. >> it was coming out. >> well, you know what, i think that uzi is in a bert place. and when i say that, a better place mentally. i don't have no problem saying on national tv right now for everyone watching, you know, that lauren, i apologize to you, you know, for everything that i did to you which was wrong, you know, for every which way you felt, you know, it's important that i apologize to you. you know, pride, i apologize to you 100%, because it's not really about a fuji album, because at the end of the day, right, beyond a fuji album, it's just important that i let mem know i salute them and i think they're two incredible individuals. >> last time i talked to you, you just finished your presidential run. >> yes, sir. >> now one of the things i'm hearing similar to the united states is that the president of
haiti is getting pushback from some appointments. it seems like it's not a smooth ride all the way. >> you run for politics, it's not a popular sport. basically, you're sacrificing yourself for a nation. with the situation in haiti, we have so much policies that are weak, that, you know, it's not something that's going to happen overnight. but i have to tell you this president, no matter what they want to say about him, i'm going to always defend his first 100 days, because i was part of it and i thought strategically the idea of helping bring tourism back, the idea of artisans showing the art within the country, the idea of taking a group of people and bringing them to another side of haiti to show, look, you know what, we have white beaches. he's a progressive. he wants development. >> wow. is there more peace on the street now? we saw so much unrest before. at least the media was showing so much unrest. what's going on on the ground now? >> pap, port-au-prince, the
capital, at times it's not stable. but at times kingston, jamaica -- you know, certain time, man, you can't go into certain part of kingston, but you know that that's kingston. >> right. >> i think with haiti, the world don't have enough information to understand that, okay, sometimes there's unrest in the capital. but outside of the capital, you have nothing but white beaches. you have green. you have places to develop. and i think to that point, you know, the idea of security within port-au-prince is something that we're working on. but outside of port-au-prince, you know, everything is always lovely. >> so you're still there a lot? i know a year ago you were there every week, every month. what's your presence in haiti right now? >> well, it's important that i'm there, you know, much more than i've ever been because with the president that's in place weather the government, you know, it's, like, i still play part of that. and it's important that i give them 100% support.
♪ >> grammy award-winning artist ne-yo also performed. when, caught up with him, he talked about his growing family and his transition into acting. it's ban few months since i've seen you. what's been going on, man? >> living and building, bubba, making babies and making music and -- >> babies? >> babies. >> a lot of babies? >> i have a daughter, emma, a beautiful daughter. she's 9 months. hi, maddy. she won't wave back. not yet. >> not yet. >> then i have another one on the way. >> another one on the way. wow. you just committing yourself getting no sleep forever. >> i'm still young so, let me get it out the way now. i got my little girl. we just found out that it's a little boy, so i'm done. girl, boy, bang, that's it. >> going to get your little football and basketball. >> done. >> two future entertainers? >> i don't know. madigan, maddy definitely sings, at least i think that's what she's doing.
it's real loud and real high, and she be having a ball doing it, so i'm assuming that it's singing. >> you're not going to be a stage parent like joe jackson? probably not a good example. >> hello, mr. jackson. >> i'm scared of you sir. i will get him switched now. >> crazy. too late. yeah. so. >> what were we talking about? michael jackson. >> michael jackson. i'm in the process of putting together a fifth album right now, coming along really, really nicely. i'll be looking forward for it the top of the year. >> okay. >> the movie "red tales" that we spoke about before, that's finally in theaters january 30th. >> i welcome you to the 332nd fighter group. >> you're fighter pilots. >> the expectations placed upon you men are high. >> we have a right to fight for our country the same as every other american. >> what's your role going to be in that? >> i play andrew "smoky" salem. he is one of the fighter piles.
he is from alabama. he plays guitar and chews an ungodly amount of tobacco. yeah. >> you wanted that role. >> for four months they gave me this black licorice that honestly i think i might have preferred the tobacco. it's the most disgusting thing you will ever taste. >> oh, real sfli. >> to perform i got a big wad of black licorice right here and spit it in the cup and it looked like the real thing. it was disgusting. >> you going into aking? >> a little bit. i haven't gotten the whole thing down yet but i'm getting there. >> okay. you feel the extra pressure of playing such important contact ters like the tuskegee airmen? >> oh, especially, because there were some tuskegee airmen there on set. >> oh. >> oh, yeah. they was a-plus, you know, you can't say nothing to a dude that went through what think went through and yelling at you, like, that ain't how it was! put the thing --
>> right. >> like, sir, we're still rolling. okay. cut. let's do all that again because he's yelling. yeah. >> after the break, two hollywood icons, jeffrey wright on creating unforgettable characters and robert townsend on the magic of making classic films. [ male announcer ] first gear is over 25 years of innovation being one of the best selling cars in america over the last decade with some of the best mpgs in the class. and now first gear is what we're leaving. introducing the available 268hp, v6, best in class combined mpg with available entune™ multimedia-system reinvented and ahead of anything on the road 2012 toyota camry se. it's everything you love, nothing you expect.
from shaft to ides of march, actor jeffrey wright is known to bringing life to unforgettable characters. he joined us at the black ber surprise pepsi golf and tennis challenge to talk act his career and his latest venture in africa. i think the first time i took notice of you was in "shad." i thought you were diminishing. >> i thought so, too, for a moment. >> you really took ownership of that role. what's that process like to take ownership of a role like that to the point you're so convincing and compelling? >> it's funny. i used to go to this spot to work out in between shows when i was on broadway because it's at the end of the broadway section of new york. and this guy who used to run the place named rafy, rafael, he was from the dominican republic, and i would show up later than everybody because i would be in between shows and i'd be going into the evening performance. he'd say, a warm body?
i say, what? like dracula with the fangs? so that's really where i derived, you know, the dominican flavor. so, you know, the process is fluid, and you get it where you can, you dig it out of the dirt where you can, so, you know, i never know exactly where it's going to come from. hopefully it comes. >> it's a cerebral process to you compared to -- i don't want to name names, but there are certain directors in hollywood who produce characters much more two-dimensional, much more flat, much less iñteresting. it seems to me you make a deliberate choice with the roles you choose and the way you approach the characters. >> well, you know, the roles that i choose, really if it strikes me off the page, if the script has layers to it that i think i can mine through and find something within, if the script is relevant, you know, you make choices for other reasons, as well, but if i really hit it, you know, pure, it's when i can find something is that strikes me from a
literary level first. got a piece coming out next month, october, that george clooney directed that's a wonderful script as well. just opened the venice film festival. it's called "ides of march." >> next president of the united states of america, governor mike lauren! >> dignity matters. >> you are off the campaign. you thought it was important to fix things? >> that script has those type of layers and the message behind it is relevant. the politics behind it, you know, were kind of -- were timely. so, you know, i try to find things like that. if it's, you know -- if it gets inside of my body and my head, then i go for it. for a while, i became a little bit disillusioned with the film industry, and as it turned out, it was at a time that my eye began to drift towards some other ideas and opportunities that have really taken most of my focus on a professional
level. got some interesting -- west africa, a company i've been developing very quietly for about seven years now that we're now starting to market. a natural resource company there where we're looking at mineral opportunities and agricultural opportunities. we're trying to view them in a 21st century way, try to do them in what we call an evolutionary way in that we are inclusive of local community needs and they have a tether to our commercial success. we think we're onto something pretty interesting. >> i just want to give it up to the person who is responsible, mr. robert townsend. >> robert tounsz end dropped by to discuss his new movie, reality tv, and his advice to the next generation of actors and filmmakers. tell us what the film "in the hive" was about. >> "in the hive" is inspired by events that happened at a school, true story. vivian saunders started this school in north carolina called the hive, and it's a school, you
know, for kids that were kicked out of school all across north carolina, birdie county. so it's like gangbangers, drug dealer, and the film is about how she turned their lives around and how with her nontraditional staff she worked with these kids and changed their lives. >> i can't believe i have a son i raised who don't know how to get @id. >> see, that's the thing. you didn't raise me. i can remember every beating. the ones you gave mama and the ones you gave me. >> one of the things people are saying -- reviews are great, by the way. >> thank you. >> they're saying this is a reputation of black people that is beyond the norm, you know, buffoonery or excess violence, that it's a positive, strong, realistic story. how important is that for you to tell that kind of story? >> well, you know, the thing for me is i've always lived in that space. i think, you know, when people look at my body of work, i always try to tell stories that are real, that are honest, that speak to something. sometimes i think with a movie
like this you can tell a great story, entertain people, but make them think. >> over the course of 20 years, we've seen so many changes in hollywood in certain ways. in other ways, things are very much the same. >> right. >> how would you describe hollywood today versus when you started? >> i think it's the best of times and it's the worst of times. i mean, on one level you have certain, you know, actors that have risen to superstar levels, but then now we have an infusion of a lot of reality shows, and so it's a lot of, you know, the worst elements, you know, when people are spitting on each other, fighting, and it just brings out the worst. we don't have that many movies, you know, so, like, within the hive, it will be one of three movies, four movies that will come out this year. so we're in a different kind of time. so it's the best of times because a lot of actors of color are working in smaller roles but not in lead roles. >> if you could give one piece of advice to the next generation of actors, filmmakers, producers and so forth, what would it be? >> be fearless, because i think
what stops a lot of people is that they're afraid, they're scared. you know what i mean? and you have to really, you know, just meet your fears head on, because what happens is people are surrounded by negative people so they may have a great idea, but their friend -- it's only the person closest to you that can kill your dream. you know, because a lot of times it's not about the talent. it's just that my girlfriend doesn't believe in me, my boyfriend, my mama, my daddy, and so you got to get rids of the negativity because the ideas could be really beautiful, but it's the confidence that comes with having that [ umpire ] strike 3. you're out! [ cheers and applause ] [ playing out of tune ] [ playing in tune ] [ male announcer ] at mcdonald's®, we support the community by giving to programs that bring out the best in our youth... ...because we believe when you feed the competitive spirit... ...it enriches the entire neighborhood. the simple joy of being deeply rooted.