19 Year Old Jekalyn Carr’s Gospel Hit “You’re Bigger” Charts On Billboard R&B Chart

Jekalyn Carr, gospel recording artist performing.

Gospel recording artist Jekalyn Carr. Photo courtesy the J. Hardy Agency.

Jekalyn Carr’s gospel hit “You’re Bigger” has crossed over from gospel to mainstream music charts. The song is doing exceptionally well at radio. As of September 24, it rests at the number 33 position on Billboard’s Adult R&B Radio Airplay chart – right between Drake and Tory Lanez.

“You’re Bigger” remained at the number two position on the radio chart for thirteen weeks before garnering Carr her first-ever number one spot on Billboard’s Gospel Airplay chart. (reaching 3.2 million weekly).

The song is from Carr’s third album, The Life Project. The August 2016 release debuted at number one on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart. “You’re Bigger” also stayed on Billboard’s Gospel Digital Songs chart for two consecutive weeks (for most digital downloads).

The powerful singer, evangelist and West Memphis, Aransas native received numerous accolades this year, including being named as a Power 100 by EBONY magazine, a distinguished list of some of the most influential people in the world. Others on that list include BeyonceBishop T.D JakesKanye West and Quincy Jones. Additionally, Carr was named one of the 16 New Faces in Gospel by P Diddy’s Revolt TV. ESSENCE named her as One To Watch, and JET Magazine also recognized her artistry.

Jekalyn Carr is making a positive impact on society and young people through her life changing music. And, for a teen in today’s fast-paced world, that’s always a good thing.

Kenny Lattimore Guest Stars on In The Cut Finale

KennyLattimore guest stars on In The Cut on Bounce TV

Kenny Lattimore guest stars on Bounce TV’s In The Cut. Photo courtesy Bounce TV.

Kenny Lattimore guest stars on the season finale of In The Cut tonight, 9 pm ET/8 pm CT on Bounce TV. G.G Townson  (Zoey 101) also guest stars.

On this episode, R&B crooner Lattimore’s character (Parker Jones – owner of a chain of shops) opens a new rival barbershop that begins to lure business away from stars Jay (Dorien Wilson), Kenny (Ken Lawson) and Smitty’s (John Marshall Jones) barbershop, Jay’s Chop Shop.

Photo of cast of Bounce TV's In The Cut.

Cast of Bounce TV’s In The Cut. Photo courtesy Bounce TV.

G.G. Townson and Ken Lawson on Bounce TV's In The Cut. Photo courtesyBounce TV.

G.G. Townson and Ken Lawson on Bounce TV’s In The Cut. Photo courtesy Bounce TV.

Also, Smitty’s daughter Stella (G.G. Townson) moves into town to attend medical school. She is beautiful and intelligent. And Kenny falls for her. This totally freaks out Smitty.

Lattimore (Parker Jones ) offers a ton of money to buy out Jay’s Chop Shop and Cheryl’s Beauty Salon owned by Kellita Smith’s character, Cheryl. Of course mayhem ensues.

I’ll be checking out all the fun and laughs tonight on In The Cut, September 20 on Bounce TV and you can too.  You can also join the conversation by using the hashtag #InTheCut on Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram.

Motown Gospel Adds Two VPs to Staff

Monica Coates, VP of A&R for Motown Gospel

Monica Coates, VP A&R, Motown Gospel

Motown Gospel has added two Vice Presidents to its executive staff. Ken Pennell, President of Gospel at Capital Christian Music Group (CCMG) announced the appointment of gospel music industry executives Monica Coates and EJ Gaines to the new positions of Vice President of A&R (Artists and Repertoire, division at record company that scouts and signs talent) and Vice President of Marketing, respectively. Both will report to Pennell. They will assume their positions on October 3 at Motown Gospel/CCMG’s headquarters in Nashville, TN.

Coates will preside over A&R, Creative and Promotions. Gaines will oversee Commercial Partnerships, Publicity and Events, Digital Marketing and Content Creation/Monetization, Sync and Business Affairs.

EJ Gaines, VP of Marketing at Motown Gospel

EJ Gaines, VP of Marketing, Motown Gospel

Both Coates and Gaines will work with CCMG Publishing to discover, sign and develop songwriters and expand the company’s existing roster of Gospel writers and producers, including Kirk Franklin, Fred Hammond, Tasha Cobbs, Aaron Lindsey  and its vast catalog of owned and administered songs like Tamela Mann’s hit “Take Me to The King”, Tosha Cobbs’ “Break Every Chain”, “You Are Good” by Israel Houghton, “Soon and Very Soon” from Andrae Crouch, Richard Smallwood’s “Total Praise”, Fred Hammond’s “No Weapon” and Marvin Sapp’s mega hit – “Never Would’ve Made It.”

Monica Coates is a 24-year veteran of the Gospel Music industry. She has held positions in artist management, promotion, publicity and A&R. Prior to joining Motown Gospel, Coates was General Manager at Kirk Franklin’s Fo Yo Soul Recordings/RCA where she oversaw campaigns for Franklin, The Walls GroupTasha Page-LockhartGeoffrey Golden, and Christon Gray. She began her career at Fred Hammond’s Face to Face production company. Additionally, she worked at Verity Records (now RCA Inspiration) as Senior Director of A&R working with great artists like Donnie McClurkin and Hezekiah Walker. Coates published her first book, The Beginners Guide To The Gospel Music Industry in 2009.

Before coming to Motown Gospel EJ Gaines was an entertainment attorney and artist manager who guided the careers of top charting artists such as Jonathan McReynoldsWilliam McDowellMary MaryDonald LawrenceIsaac Carree and Natalie Grant. He began his career at Jive Records and Verity Records. Gaines also served as an executive assistant to platinum-selling Gospel artist Donnie McClurkin.

Pennell said, “We are so excited to be naming Monica Coates and EJ Gaines to these important positions within Motown Gospel. They both bring a wealth of experience to their respective roles, and our artists will benefit greatly from their diverse skill sets, passion for music and belief in how Gospel Music can enrich the lives of its listeners. All of us within Motown Gospel and CCMG wholeheartedly welcome Monica and EJ to our family.”

Ed Gordon Show Premieres on Bounce TV

Ed Gordon

Ed Gordon, Award Winning Journalist and host of Bounce TV’s Ed Gordon show. Photo courtesy Bounce TV.

Ed Gordon brings his style of news to Bounce TV with the premier of Ed Gordon, Tuesday, September 13 at 10 pm ET/9 pm CT. The series is the first news magazine show ever on Bounce TV. It is a mix of celebrity and pop culture interviews, investigative news, current events and human-interest stories.

A thirty year veteran and respected journalist, Gordon has served as a contributor to 60 Minutes, the Today Show and Dateline NBC. Gordon hosted NPR’s News and Notes with Ed Gordon. He was an anchor on BET. Currently, he is a contributor to the national syndicated Steve Harvey Radio Show. Ed Gordon debuts with some powerful interviews. Gordon talks to the cast of Nate Parker’s The Birth Of A Nation film, which will include a special conversation with Nate Parker – the film’s director, writer and star – about his controversial past. Gordon will also go one on one with Grammy Award winning soulful crooner Maxwell about his music, life and activism..

Ed Gordon talks with Mothers of The Movement in Ferguson, MO. Photo courtesy Bounce TV.

Ed Gordon Talks with Mothers of The Movement on Bounce TV. Photo courtesy Bounce TV.

The NAACP Image Award winning Gordon will delve into socio-political issues of the day with an exclusive sit-down, emotional interview with Mothers of The Movement, African American mothers whose children have been the victims of violence. The “mothers” are Sybrina Fulton (Trayvon Martin), Lucia McBath (Jordan Davis), Lezley McSpadden (Michael Brown), Wanda Johnson (Oscar Grant) and Marian Tolan (Robbie Tolan). They will discuss what life is like for them day to day and about the senseless gun violence that is plaguing the nation.

Gordon has interviewed the likes of President Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandella, Janet Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, and O.J. Simpson. He says he is elated to partner with Bounce TV. When asked if he would be having either of the 2016 presidential candidates on his show he said, “Quite frankly I don’t hold out a whole lot of hope sitting with them, not that its us, in that I think both are avoiding sit downs with the press as often as they can…but I would love if both are true in their want to talk with African Americans that they would not only do what a lot of candidates have done over the years.

Ed Gordon talks with singer Maxwell on Ed Gordon show on Bounce TV

Ed Gordon, host of Ed Gordon show on Bounce TV talks with singer/activist Maxwell

They think, well I talked to Tom Joyner or I talked on Steve Harvey’s radio program and they think that means they’ve talked to all of us…and that just isn’t the case.  They should continue to go on Tom and Steve but they should sit with Roland (Martin), they should sit with myself…sit with Tavis (Smiley)…sit with Soledad (Obrien)…sit with us as they do with the other community… with all of us…the people in print….I know the late great George Curry, had not only (sent) invitations to them but was frustrated quite frankly on his own in trying to sit with President Obama. So I think that the black press needs to be afforded more opportunities and that’s something that I’ve fought with throughout my career.”

Witness more of that kind of straight ahead journalism from Ed Gordon on the Ed Gordon show premiering Tuesday, September 13 at 10 p.m. ET/9 p.m. CT on Bounce TV.


Listen to Ed Gordon talk about his new show. Press play.

Check out Ed Gordon’s guests on his premiere show on Bounce TV. Press play.

Ringside Premieres on TV One Sunday, September 4

Ringside - TV One movie posterRingside, TV One’s latest original made for TV movie premieres Sunday, September 4 at 7pm ET.

Set in the world of boxing, Ringside stars Tyler Lepley (The Haves and The Have Nots), the undefeated, rising-star, college-educated boxer, Jaxon Holley and  Allen Maldonado (Straight Outta Compton, Black-ish, The Equalizer) as his nemesis, trash-talking, middleweight boxing champion, Spenser “Timber” Collier.

The action-drama-comedy was written, directed and produced by nationally syndicated radio host, Russ Parr (Hear No Evil, The Undershepherd, 35 and Ticking). The film explores the underside of the boxing world, from illegal activity, to the groupies, to the complicated frustrations and burdens carried by the boxer, management and their families. Parr, who is a fan of boxing and wrote the script in two weeks said, “We’re so used to the typical romantic comedies…I wanted to do…a more heavy handed, dramatic…with a little sprinkling of comedy. And I find the boxing world really hasn’t been touched…a lot of people don’t understand the culture behind following the boxing world…I wanted to try and humanize the sport and yet show the darkness and the cut-throat business that it really is.”

Tyler Lepley in character as Jaxon Holley in the TV One movie Ringside.

Tyler Lepley as Jaxon Holley on TV One’s movie, Ringside. Photo by Gallery, courtesy of TV One.

The characters in Ringside are multi-layered and complex. Lepley’s character, Jaxon is a boxer with a master’s degree in clinical psychology who at 16 had to take over the role as parent to his two younger siblings when their parents were killed in a car accident. Tequan Richmond (Ray, Everybody Hates Chris, General Hospital) plays his younger brother, wanna-be rapper, T.C. Atlantic recording artist, songwriter, Sevyn Streeter plays his flirtatious younger sister.

Parr said, “Not everybody’s life is sugar rocks and rainbows…and I wanted to bring the darker side to a dark sport…from a human level…like the Jaxon character…he has a Masters degree in clinical psychology. You wouldn’t think that someone with as maters degree would be a professional boxer.”

Lepley easily slipped into his character. “We only had a few weeks to get ready for the role…Like Allen (Maldonado)…I come from a boxing background. So it wasn’t like I was just putting on the gloves for the first time…the biggest thing was, just doing what I normally do…but doing it as if it was my job. In my life, you might catch me in the gym…putting the gloves on hitting the heavy bag maybe once every couple of weeks. But once I had gotten the call that we were going to start in two weeks it was an everyday thing…When I was done, the first thing I had was a big double cheeseburger,” said Lepley.

Cast photo from TV One movie, RingsideRingside was produced by Swirl Films. It was executive produced by Eric Tomosunas and Keith Neal. Leah Daniels Butler, C.S.A. served as Casting Director. D’Angela Proctor is SVP of Original Programming and Production for TV One.

Tune in to see the chaos that ensues on the darker side of a boxer’s world and what appears to be a set up for a TV series on Ringside tonight at 7 p.m. ET with an encore showing at 9 p.m. ET on TV One.

For more information about Ringside and on TV One, visit t www.tvone.tvTV One viewers can also join the conversation on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook (@tvonetv) using the hashtag #Ringside.

Click below to listen to Tyler Lepley talk about the complexities of his character “Jaxon”  in Ringside.


D3 Entertainment Music Executives Siblings Strike Deal with Sony/Provident

D3 Music Group executives sign with Provident Music Distribution.

D3 Music Group executives at signing with Provident Distribution. L to R (seated) Kendall Duffie-D3, Michelle Duffie-D3, (standing) Jimmy Wheeler, VP Distribution-Provident. and Clyde Duffie-D3 Music.

D3 Entertainment music entertainment executives, siblings Michelle, Kelvis and Kendall Duffie strike a deal with Sony/Provident Distribution for their new company D3 Music Group. Under the agreement, D3 Music Group will sign artists, record and release new music and provide creative oversight of specialized projects. Their release is Ben-Hur Soul Inspired By. It features the songs “Back to You” from Platinum selling duo Mary Mary and “Only Way Out” by Neo-Soul rising star Andra Day. D3 Music Group’s Ben-Hur Soul Inspired By will be released September 16.

D3 Entertainment is handling the African-American audience marketing for the film Ben-Hur. The action drama’s cast includes Morgan Freeman and Jack Huston. Ben-Hur is in theaters nationwide.

“Our vision has always been to harness our collective experiences and relationships to super serve the African-American audience and the entertainment industry at large,” says Michelle Duffie, CEO, D3 Entertainment. “Our guiding principles are faith, family, integrity and excellence, and with that combination I believe there are no limits to what we can accomplish. It is an honor to have major companies entrust us with their brands. We look forward to continue delivering trendsetting, record-breaking experiences with our music company.”

Jimmy Wheeler, Vice President of Distribution, Provident Music Group, says: “D3 has championed several successful projects over the years and we are honored to become a partner with them. Their experience in the entertainment industry is extremely valuable and we look forward to working with them in the months and years to come.”

Kelvin (Clyde) Duffie, President, D3 Entertainment, says: “D3 Music Group will be another vehicle in which seasoned artists and new talent can have a lane to share their gifts to the world.”

Kendall Duffie, Vice President, says: “I’m excited about this partnership and opportunity to create and deliver music content through the Sony/Provident system. This is what we love to do and we will do it in excellence.”

D3 Entertainment, a ten-year old agency specializing marketing and promotions that connects the African-American faith and family audience to major brands and entertainment entities, has proven stellar marketing efforts in television and film projects that have resulted in #1 box office hits War Room, Risen and God’s Not Dead. The company’s marketing strategies have resulted in a 50% increase in the African-American faith-based audience, and over $700 million in revenue for film studios. In music, the company boasts numerous #1 records from inspirational artists Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp and Tasha Cobbs.

Meagan Good on Season Opener of Unsung Hollywood

promo poster of Unsung Hollywood featuring Meagan Good

Meagan Good is featured on tonight’s season opener of TV One’s Unsung Hollywood.

Good came on the Hollywood scene as an actor at the tender age of four in commercials. The starlet literally grew up in front of our eyes. She had roles in TV shows such as the 1998 Nickelodeon series “Cousin Skeeter.” As a teen she got her big movie break in Kasi Lemmons’ 1997 critically acclaimed film Eve’s Bayou.

By the early 2000s the budding starlet had appeared in a series of television shows and motion pictures, including Deliver Us From Eva, and D.E.B.S. The Cookout and You Got Served. 

Good has starred in recent TV shows CBS’ Code Black,” and FOX’sMinority Report.” Among her film credits are Think Like A Man and Think Like A Man Too, Jumping The Broom, Biker Boyz, Saw V and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

She has also produced her own indie film projects. In 2006 Good executive-produced and starred in the feature

Photo fo Meagan Good courtesy Unlimited Entertainment

Meagan Good. Photo courtesy Unlimited Entertainment

Miles From Home. She also co-produced and starred in the 2015 coming of age movie,  A Girl Like Grace.

Unsung Hollywood will chronicle her career from the beginning up until today, with glimpses into her personal life, marriage to Hollywood studio executive DeVon Franklin and details about some of the mistakes Good has made along the way to Hollywood stardom. Megan Good’s Unsung Hollywood episode marks the first one of the one season and will include interviews with Hollywood peers Gabrielle Union and Lynn Whitfield.

Tune in to find out about Megan Good’s life, career struggles and victories, marriage, her vow of celibacy and more tonight at 8/7 pm ET/CT on TV One. For more information on Unsung and other TV One shows visit www.tvone.com

Steve Harvey Honors Community Stars At The 2016 State Farm Neighborhood Awards

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 23: Host Steve Harvey speaks during the 2016 Neighborhood Awards hosted by Steve Harvey at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Nu-Opp, Inc)

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 23: Host Steve Harvey speaks during the 2016 Neighborhood Awards hosted by Steve Harvey at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Nu-Opp, Inc)

Las Vegas was the perfect backdrop for Steve Harvey’s 2016 State Farm Neighborhood Awards, formerly The Hoodie Awards. Hosted at the luxurious Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino July 22nd – 24th by Emmy Award winning TV and radio star Steve Harvey, The State Farm Neighborhood Awards weekend served up a dose of inspiration, a slice encouragement and some of the best entertainment in the business to honor everyday community stars. The event celebrated these positive, often unsung community heroes from across the nation who uplift their neighborhoods through purposeful contributions via education, religion, community activism and more.

Performances at the three-day star studded sold out event included R and B stars Maxwell and Eryka Badu and . Produced for the fourteen year by EMMY-winning television/film/radio producer Rushion McDonald, the event also included celebrity appearances by Toni Braxton, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Sheryl Underwood, Terrence J, Bern Nadette Stanis, Lavell Crawford, Yolanda Adams, Lalah Hathaway, Earthquake, Sommore, Benjamin Crump, Ed Gordon, Shirley Strawberry, Nephew Tommy, Carla Ferrell, Junior, and State Farm’s Duane Farrington.

The fun-filled weekend played host to other events, including The State Farm Color Full Lives Art Gallery experience, The Farm Sing Your Way Contest and Freedom Friday Concert featuring performances from Charlie Wilson and Keith Sweat, The Freedom Friday Party featuring Doug E. Fresh, the Neighborhood Awards VIP After-Party, and Jill Scott headlining the Neighborhood Awards Beach Party.

Singer Maxwell performs at The 2016 State Farm Neighborhood Awards, Las Vegas, NV.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 23: Singer/songwriter Maxwell performs during the 2016 Neighborhood Awards hosted by Steve Harvey at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Nu-Opp, Inc)

The State Farm Neighborhood Awards also gave back to the community with special presentations. Checks were presented by Cracker Barrel to the Best School Teacher Award winner. State Farm presented a check to the Good Neighbor Award winner.

The State Farm Awards was created by Steve Harvey and Rushion McDonald. The winners and nominees are chosen by the public.


Charlie Wilson performing at Freedom Concert during The 2016 State Farm Neighborhood Awards

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 22: Recording artist Charlie Wilson (C) performs during the Freedom Friday Concert at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Nu-Opp, Inc)


Sheryl Underwood speaking at the 2016 State Farm Neighborhood Awards in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 23: Comedian Sheryl Underwood speaks during the 2016 Neighborhood Awards hosted by Steve Harvey at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Nu-Opp, Inc) *** Local Caption *** Sheryl Underwood

R and B Singer and reality TV Star Toni Braxton pose at the 2016 State Farm Neighborhood Awards.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 23: Diezel Ky Braxton-Lewis (L) and singer/songwriter Toni Braxton pose backstage during the 2016 Neighborhood Awards hosted by Steve Harvey at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Nu-Opp, Inc)

Erykah Badu performs at the 2016 State Farm Neighborhood Awards in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 23: Singer/songwriter Erykah Badu performs during the 2016 Neighborhood Awards hosted by Steve Harvey at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Nu-Opp, Inc)

Wendy Raquel Robinson speaks at the 2016 State Farm Neighborhood Awards in Las Vegas.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 23: Actress Wendy Raquel Robinson speaks during the 2016 Neighborhood Awards hosted by Steve Harvey at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 23, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for Nu-Opp, Inc)

Keith Sweat performs at the Freedom Friday Concert during the 2016 State Farm Neighborhood Awards.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JULY 22: Recording artist Keith Sweat performs in the audience during the Freedom Friday Concert at the Mandalay Bay Events Center on July 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images for Nu-Opp, Inc)

Mary Mary Performs on The Preachers Today

Erica Campbell, Gospel Recording Artist

Erica Campbell – Photo Courtesy Plan A Media

Erica and Tina Campbell, also known as the superstar gospel music duo Mary Mary, will perform on the new Fox Network faith-based talk show The Preachers, Friday, July 22.

The real life sisters will perform “Back To You” from the soundtrack of the August 2016 Paramount Pictures/MGM movie, Ben Hur. The ballad’s strong message is timeless and befitting of biblical times down to today’s challenging societal unrest.

Fans of Mary Mary will be excited to have new music from the multi-Grammy ® and Stellar Award winning gospel recording artists and We tv reality stars. “Back To You” was written and produced by Grammy ® winning producer Warryn Campbell. It was co-written by Erica and Tina Campbell. The original single is their first since their 2012 chart topping hit “Go Get It.” Up until the release of “Back To You,” they had been busy with their solo career projects, ministries and business ventures, and continue to do so.

Tina and her husband, talented drummer Teddy Campbell, will kick off their tour, “An Evening with Teddy and

Tina Campbell of Mary Mary

Tina Campbell – Photo Courtesy Plan A Media

Tina Campbell” on September 14 in Nashville. Other stops on this free tour, include Los Angeles, New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston and Phoenix. Tour highlights include “The Teddy Campbell Band,” led by Teddy Campbell and Teddy’s “Frontline Men’s Bible Study.”

Erica Campbell continues her duties as first lady of the California Worship Center and as host of Reach Media’s nationally syndicated radio show Get Up! Mornings with Erica Campbell, co-hosted by veteran comedian GRIFF.

The Preachers features a panel of prominent mega church pastors as hosts: John Gray-Lakewood Church-Houston, TX; Jamal Bryant-Empowerment Temple AME Church-Baltimore; E. Dewey Smith, Jr.-The House of Hope – Atlanta and The House of Hope- Macon, GA; and Orrick Quick-God Seekers Church-High Point, North Carolina. The show is executive produced by the man who also executive produced and co-created ABC’s “The View,” Bill Geddie. The Preachers airs on Fox Network stations in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, Houston, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Charlotte and Dallas. For air times visit www.preacherstv.com

Kyla Pratt Stars in TV One’s Drama The Secret She Kept

The Secret She Kept.TV One posterKyla Pratt stars in the TV One drama, The Secret She Kept, Sunday July 10 at 7pm ET/6 PM CT. The original made for TV movie is TV One’s creative effort to bring to light how the African-American community is affected by and deals, or sometimes does not deal with mental health issues during July, The BeBe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

Inspired by the best selling-book of the same name written by author and NAACP Image Awards winner ReShonda Tate Billingsley, The Secret She Kept delves into the world of successful Atlanta attorney Tia Jiles, played by Kyla Pratt (Recovery Road, One on One, The Proud Family, Dr. Doolittle). Tia is running for district attorney and gets married to magazine publisher and journalist, Lance Kingston, played by Gavin Houston (The Haves and the Have Nots, Guiding Light) when she mentally starts unraveling. It is later revealed that she is schizophrenic and bi-polar and Tia is fighting to maintain her high-powered life and stay functional. What is even more intriguing is that Tia is not the only one in her family who is suffering from mental illness. Pratt said of her role, “I wanted to make sure that I gave it justice…that someone could watch it, and it really affect their life.

Houston’s character investigates out of concern and finds out his wife is mentally ill, but he still stays with her. He said, “There’s strength in opening up and letting others be there (for you).”

Kellita Smith (Z Nation, In The Cut, The Bernie Mac Show, The First Family) portrays Kyla Pratt’s character’s mother, the overbearing, over protective, controlling, judge Virginia Scroggins-Jiles. Virginia goes about keeping the upper class family’s secret of mental illness from the public. Her father committed suicide fighting away his mental demons. Virginia’s brother Leo Scroggins (George Bryant II) is battling for his sanity under her the ever-watchful eye.

Cast of TV One movie, The Secret She Kept.

The Secret She Kept cast. (L to R) Gavin Houston, Kellita Smith and Kyla Pratt. Photo courtesy TV One.

According to Psychology Today, mental illness is often misunderstood in the African-American Community and has a stigma attached to it. African-American would rather seek help from a trusted friend or church pastor than a mental health professional.

Vanessa Williams (Soul Food, Melrose Place) plays Beverly Kingston, the older, protective sister and business partner of Lance. She believes African-Americans with mental health concerns need a combination of mental health resources, “We (need) to utilize all the tools we have, including calling on Jesus and scientific help.”

Vanessa Williams in TV One's The Secret She Kept.

Actress Vanessa Williams plays Beverly Kingston in TV One’s The Secret She Kept. Photo courtesy TV One.

Beverly’s line about Tia and ‘crazy’ in the movie is reflective of how many in the African-American community think when it comes to mental health. She says in a conversation with Lance, “I mean, yeah, I always thought girlfriend was a little bit crazy. But not sho’ nuff crazy, like white folk take pills lay on the couch crazy. But just regular, ‘girl you crazy, crazy.’ …Black chics don’t do therapists, pastor maybe…girlfriend possibly, hair dresser definitely, but therapist, no.”

D’Angela Proctor, TV One Senior VP of Original Programming and Production, believes the film is vital to the African-American community. “Mental health is generally something the African-American community does not talk about… If one person is prompted to go and seek help, then this movie would have been worth it,” said Proctor.

Written by Rhonda Freeman-Baraka, the strong and talented cast, plus its intriguing and much-needed story line makes The Secret She Kept not only entertaining, but educational and necessary in creating dialogue and awareness about mental health in African-American families.

Tune in to see this excellent movie. The Secret She Kept premieres on TV One this Sunday, July 10 at 7pm ET with an encore showing at 9 pm ET. You can also join the conversation using #SecretSheKept and #Represent on social media.

%d bloggers like this: