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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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Interviews

Snowfall’s Michael Hyatt Talks Season 4, Cissy Saint’s Evolution and Being Comfortable In Your Own Skin (Video)

Michael Hyatt has graced our screens since before Snowfall. The Howard University alumn is known for playing recurring roles on several television shows, including The West Wing, The Wire, and True Detective, to name a few. Yet, her character Cissy Saint on FX’s drama Snowfall holds an exceptional place in her craft and her heart.

Currently in season 4, the show continues to follow Frankin Saint (Damson Idris), his friends, and associates as things around their drug dealing enterprise get more intense and a bit out of control.

Cissy’s journey from the series pilot to today has been enjoyable to watch. “Cissy has evolved.”Hyatt tells HM, “Over the last four years [you’ve] had the opportunity to see not just Cissy the mom, but the career woman, and the wife. And I don’t think we have enough opportunities to see us in the multi-dimensional consciousness that we actually live in.”

Michael Hyatt as Cissy Saint, ‘Snowfall’ FX

Cast as a series regular by the show’s creator John Singleton, the actress commends the late director for always bringing the authentic stories and talent of people of the African diaspora to the forefront. “When John was here, his whole thing was – it’s gotta be true. People wanna see themselves.” He carried the same vision for his crew behind the scenes. “Many of the crew members that are still on the show today were brought on by John, and I’m talking about the African faces that I have the pleasure of experiencing,” Hyatt says.

Born in the UK to Jamaican parents Vera and Charles Hyatt, the actress emigrated to the United States with her mother and siblings when she was 10 years old. Hyatt always remembers who she is and where she comes from, “I am African, British, Jamaican, American. I am that.” She tells HM. Embracing her West Indian heritage has been instrumental in her portrayal of Cissy Saint. “John [Singleton] would tell me that he has West Indian family members and when he thought of this story and these people, he was thinking of his aunt, grandmother, who are West Indian.” She shared in our interview, “It gave me permission to allow any aspect of myself to come out because they all represent who Cissy is, who all of us are.”

Make sure to check out our exclusive interview with Michael Hyatt above!

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Film

Bria Danielle Singleton Talks Playing The Younger Version of Octavia Spencer’s Character in ‘Thunder Force’

Bria Danielle Singleton had secured a role in Netflix’s new superhero comedy Thunder Force, starring Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer and Emmy winner Melissa McCarthy.

The 15-year-old California native is playing the younger version of Spencer’s character, Emily – a quiet girl who prefers to keep it to herself. Tween Emily lives with her grandmother and does not have any friends. That is until she meets Lydia, and they form a strong friendship. The two best friends lose contact with each other but later reunite when in their 40’s after Emily devises a treatment that gives both powers to protect their city.

Watch our interview with Bria below and stream Thunder Force on Netflix starting Friday, April 9.

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Film & Television

Gail Bean Talks ‘Snowfall’ Season 4, Wanda’s Second Chance, and Making John Singleton Proud / HM exclusive

Gail Bean is on an exciting journey. With several films and television roles already under her belt, the Atlanta native has been a series regular on Snowfall since season 2.

The crime drama, currently in season 4, continues to gain momentum. According to the reports, Snowfall‘s ratings are up 41%. The numbers came as a pleasant surprise – this marks the first full season without one of the show’s original creators, John Singleton, who sadly passed away in 2019.

Keeping the late filmmaker’s legacy alive and making him proud was extremely important for the Snowfall team, including Eric Amadio and Dave Andron, who started with Singleton, and now continue to carry his vision. “We did all meet, we did make a vow to not let the show slip,” Bean shared during our conversation, “He passed the baton to us and we need to continue to build, and continue to make sure that people remember that he went out at a high – he started off great with Boyz n the Hood and ended great with Snowfall.” And yes, he did THAT!

Snowfall cast

The series is a prime example of television excellence thanks to great writing and brilliant performances like Bean’s. Portraying Wanda Bell has been challenging and rewarding at the same time. The hardest part about it, the actress says, is knowing that drug addiction is a harsh reality for so many people, “I am grateful I get to step out of Wanda at the end of the day and wash her off. It’s really hard for me knowing that there [are] so many people who don’t.”

Another challenge Bean encountered in this role is being uncertain about the fate of her character. When Wanda got shot in earlier episodes of season 4, it seemed, for a brief moment, that her journey was over. She, however, got her second chance, which, the actress says, was a surprise because things could go either way for her, “I am just very grateful that she would have a second chance at life. I know so many stories of crack addicts that I know they could’ve gone any way with her, and it would’ve been realistic.” Without a doubt, Wanda’s journey has not been an easy one, but we are ecstatic to see her continue on the show, hopefully into season 5!

Catch Gail Bean on Snowfall every Wednesday at 10/9c on FX.

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