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‘All American’ Bre-Z on playing Coop and making original music for The CW’s hit series

Starring in All American has been a rewarding experience for Bre-Z, an actress and musician, who is not just playing a Crenshaw teen rapper on screen, but also gets to share her own musical talent through Coop, a role that she says was a perfect fit for her. With the fourth episode of season 3 airing on Monday (Feb. 8), Coop will return with more original music, a new record titled Family Over Everything.

HM: You are so gifted. Is acting, music and arts in general something you had around you growing up?

Bre-Z: It’s just something I picked up in my early teenage years. I don’t have anyone in my family who is, I guess you could say, a professional entertainer but I had family members singing in the choir and stuff like that.

HM: And when it comes to acting, how did that come about?

Bre-Z: I was a barber first. I was cutting hair one time and someone came to me and recommended that I go on an audition based on this character doing music. I was just like ‘okay’.

Honestly, didn’t know anything about that world of television or film, but I did it, I got the role and truly fell in love with it. And I was like ‘wow I could do this”. I’ve been doing it and learning as I go along and watching other professionals. I had the pleasure of working with so many big actors of our time, and just working across from them or alongside them made me feel like I was where I was supposed to be.

HM: Any great advice from the big actors you worked with?

Bre-Z: Terrence Howard [Bre-Z’s co-star on ‘Empire’] would always tell me just to trust myself and trust my natural instinct. And I think that’s something I carry with me every day. And I think it’s one of the best [pieces of] advice.

HM: At this point of your life what comes first music or acting and why?

Bre-Z: Music. It’s there, it’s not going anywhere. I work on it daily. It’s hard to put it on number 1 with so much filming going on but when filming is done, it’s number 1.

HM: What are you working on currently? Are you making music, are you filming?

Bre-Z: I’m actually doing both. I am finishing up my album, just tying loose ends on that and we are in production for season 3 [of All American]. So I am filming and working on my music whatever time I can get.

HM: In the first two seasons of the show, your character was focused on her friendships, relationships, and family. What Coop’s journey will be like in season 3?

Bre-Z: She’s growing. They are just coming back from summer break, of course, she was on tour. The tour was very successful, so I think moving forward we’ll just have to see more growth from there. We’ll have to see what’s next. I can’t tell you what’s next. We’ll have to see… But they dig into what happened over the summer and the tour, and how did it really go. All of us have to finish our senior year in High School; a lot of decisions to be made going into young adulthood.

HM: You now have written and co-written several records for All American, including the latest one,  Family Over Everything. What is the song about and why now?

Bre-Z: It’s speaking to our community in supporting one another, holding each over down with everything that may go on we continue to stick together. We have the desire to stick together and that was the direction for the record. The title Family Over Everything is self-explanatory; and I say family in terms of our community, our peers, not just our immediate family – everything that helps us grow and helps us be who we are, everything that supports us. That’s what I mean in terms of family.

HM: When it comes to creating music that Coop performs on the show, how much creative freedom do you get?

Bre-Z: I have a very good relationship with my showrunner and my music supervisor and they trust me with the music that’s being created for Coop. So, I just talk to them, get their notes, get specifics if needed, and just go in the studio and knock it out.

HM: Out of all the music you’ve written and co-written for the show, which is your favorite?

Bre-Z: I think they are all very meaningful, so I don’t even know if I have a favorite. Because they all meant something special to the character and to the show, and they were all able to be relative to the storyline.

HM: Can we expect any exciting musical collaborations down the road on the show and from you personally? 

Bre-Z: I’m working on an album. It’s just gonna create the separation between what people see me do on television and what Bre-Z really loves to do. My music is more laid back, more chill. Not a lot of yelling and screaming, things like that. It’s good vibes. I’m putting that together now. And, again, as I said, this is me creating that separation cause I wasn’t able to that while constantly creating music for television. It’s hard to separate who I actually am as an artist, a lot of people don’t know that. So it’s almost like a re-introduction.

Catch All American on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.

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Film

Racing Against the Times in ‘Fast 9’ with Nathalie Emmanuel

Game of Thrones actress Nathalie Emmanuel sat with Hollywood Melanin to discuss the upcoming addition to the Fast franchise. Her character, Ramsey, is a super intelligent, tech-savvy ‘hacktivist,’ showing women in a powerful light.

 Emmanuel revealed what she did to prepare for her role and what it meant to play such a strong and crucial character in the Fast & Furious series. During this critical time of social change, Emmanuel stressed how important it was to have a powerful representation of women in roles that break social stigmas.

Ramsey is a woman-mastermind and a cyber genius. Using her expertise and intellect, she was able to join Torretto’s crew and take them to the next level. Having an expert hacker like Ramsey contributes to Dom’s (Vin Diesel) ability to fulfill missions by applying science to the need for speed.

(from left) Ramsey (Nathalie Emmanuel) and Dom (Vin Diesel) in “F9,” directed by Justin Lin.

During our conversation, Emmanuel reflected on her role, and what technologically advanced representation does for the overall narrative. “I think it’s a great representation for women and women of color in tech—it’s really not something that you hear about.” She continued, “I think it’s really important that you have that representation, that she’s not only just into tech and she’s good at it— she’s exceptional… Maybe it can inspire people to go off to do things that maybe they think, ‘someone like me cant do that.’”

Emmanuel described her character in F9 as “hyper-focused.” Ramsey is able to pinpoint a solution amid the chaos of cars flying in the air. “I think she is one of these people who are hyper-focused, and this is what she’s good at, this is what she enjoys—so she had to note every single thing about it, and obviously technology is changing all the time, this sort of learning and on-changing. She’s just so obsessed with it that she knows as much as anyone can know; it might just explain why she hasn’t got her license because she was literally doing technology her whole life.” Emmanuel really immersed herself into her character, even relating to the fact that she can’t drive in reality!

Catch Nathalie Emmanuel in ‘F9: The Fast Saga‘ on June 25 in theaters near you!


by Betti Halsell

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Film

Going Full Throttle in ‘F9’ With Tyrese Gibson

‘F9: The Fast Saga’ hits theaters on June 25

by Betti Halsell

Iconic character Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson) has made it through major milestones in the Fast and Furious series, and his character is always testing new extremities in the Fast Saga. Gibson gave HM an exclusive breakdown of his character and what it means to be a part of the Fast & Furious family.

In our conversation, the R&B legend turn-action-movie-star has shown the breadth of his talent, shared his perspective regarding the franchise’s contribution to ethnic representation, and explained why the forthcoming installment is an absolute must-see!

As a reminder, Roman entered the saga as the childhood friend of Brian O’Conner (played by the late Paul Walker). The audience meets him as a convict on house arrest, a sentence he received for harboring stolen cars.  O’Conner convinces Pearce to team up and take down the Argentinian drug lord Carter Verone (Cole Hauser).

When first introduced to viewers in 2 Fast 2 Furious, Pearce wants nothing to do with the operations. By the ninth chapter, however, we see a total shift – he is no longer foreign to danger and now fearlessly drives a military-grade tank-like vehicle through fatal war grounds.

Fast 9 pushes the limits of every character and is filled with a great deal of action! “It was a lot of movie to sit through because it’s just so much action, wall-to-wall humor, comedy, history, backstory,” Tyrese told HM.

The six billion dollar franchise has always emphasized the meaning of family and consistently put diversity to the forefront. When asked about the cultural narrative of the film, Tyrese said, “We’ve been carrying the diversity and inclusion torch for 20 years–and when we say diversity and inclusion, we’re not just saying Black and Brown, we’re saying women in movies shouldn’t be just holding on the super hero’s arm and being saved.” He continued, “We’ve always pushed that narrative–they may not want to give us the credit and that’s actually ok, but when you see the level of diversity and inclusion–and the multi-ethnic Asian, White, Black, Latino, Brazilian…we checked off every box there is, and I think there is something really powerful about people going to the movies and seeing someone that looks like them or where their from, talk the way they talk.” 

The Fast & Furious veteran promises – fans will not be disappointed, “Whoever grew up with us, whoever was raised by this franchise, they’re gonna be very happy with Fast 9.”

Catch Roman explore the theory of being invincible on June 25 in theaters near you.

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Film

Holly Robinson Peete Talks New ‘Morning Show Mysteries’ Hallmark Film

The actor, producer, and philanthropist chatted with us about her role in the latest season of Morning Show Mysteries. The sixth installment, titled Murder Ever After, continues to follow her character, Billie Blessings, as she now discovers human bones in the basement of an old friend’s house, which leads her back into investigative work that she loves so much.

Also starring in the upcoming mystery feature are Colin Lawrence (Riverdale) and Karen Robinson (Schitt’s Creek).

Watch the premiere of Morning Show Mysteries: Murder Ever After on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Sunday, May 23 at 8 p.m. ET. 

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