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Get To Know [Bertrand Boyd] (Ep. 1)

In our very first episode of the Get To Know… series we sat down with the poet, writer, and actor Bertrand Boyd. Watch him talk about his deepest passions and fears, starring in Melina Matsoukas-directed box office hit Queen & Slim, being a big Samuel L. Jackson fan and more!

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Film

Christian J. Simon Talks ‘Under Wraps,’ Comedy and Disney Legacy

Best known for his role as Max’s best friend Leo in family comedy Sydney to the Max, Christian J. Simon is now starring in a reboot of Disney Channel’s first original movie, Under Wraps. Just in time for Halloween!

The story follows small-town teen friends Gilbert (Simon), Marshall (Malachi Barton), and Amy (Sophia Hammons), who accidentally revive and release a 4000-year old mummy in the days leading up to Halloween.

At first terrified, the friends quickly learn that the Mummy, who they affectionately name ‘Harold,’ is actually nice and in dire need of assistance. A group of criminals captures and intends to sell the mummy. To save the life of their friend, the trio has to come together, face their fears, and rush to return Harold to his sarcophagus before midnight.

Christian J. Simon, Malachi Barton, Sophia Hammons in 'Under Wraps'

We chatted with Christian, a rising comedic star, and talked about the movie, the legacy of Disney, and what it means to be a part of it.


HM: Tell us about your character, Gilbert.

CS: Gilbert loves to have a good time. He is smart, funny, gets scared very easily; he doesn’t like horror movies, which is funny because he is the total opposite of his best friend Marshall, who’s always pushing him to face his fears.

HM: What was the scene you enjoyed filming the most?

CS: Every scene was fun to shoot. There was something in every scene. But I remember how fun the car scenes were, and I say the last scene. I’m not gonna say too much cause y’all gotta tune in.

HM: How familiar were you with the original movie?

CS: No, I didn’t know what Under Wraps was when I got the audition. And I actually ended up watching it after I booked the job with my castmates in Vancouver, Canada. Which I think was great cause it was after we already put our own spin on the characters and what we thought they would be.

HM: With Disney as a brand known for creating a lot of original movies and you are a part of this legacy, which has a lot of significance to generations coming after you. How does it feel to be a part of this legacy?

CS: It feels amazing. I grew up watching Disney Channel, so to be on a network like this and [do] not just one but two things. Oh gosh, God is so good! I say to all kids out there, keep working hard and don’t give up. If you believe in something and have something that you wanna do, don’t stop. You gonna face a lot of rejection [for] whatever you choose to do. But you gotta let it be fuel for your fire and keep going and know that you can do it.

Watch our full interview above, and make sure to check out Under Wraps on Disney+ on Friday, October 8.

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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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