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KJ Smith Talks Leading and Producing ‘The Available Wife’, Tapping Into Her Calling, and Working with Tyler Perry

KJ Smith is making waves in the industry. In the last few years, she’s been busier (and happier) than ever. From co-leading one of Tyler Perry‘s hit series Sistas to recently starring in Netflix’s top-rated titles #BlackAF and Fatal Affair, the actress (who now also added the producer title to her resume) is not planning to slow down any time soon.

The Available Wife, one of Smith’s latest and dearest projects, is currently going through the festival circuit and has already been nominated for Best Narrative Feature at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF).

The film is based on Carla Pennington‘s book of the same title, which was adapted for the screen by Tressa Azarel Smallwood (BET’s All In) and Jamal Hill (Brotherly Love), who also directed the feature. Also starring in the romantic feature are Terayle Hill, Clifton Powell, and Roger Guenveur Smith.

The storyline centers around Nicole Wright (Smith), a successful music executive whose life is about to fall apart. While having an affair with Kingston (Hill), the sexy artist on the rise full of promises, Nicole learns the hard way that looks can be deceiving and his motives are as dark as the secrets she keeps.

This is Smith’s first time undertaking such a multifaceted role, she shared with us. Although the complexity of Nicole’s character made her exciting to play, the actress could not fully relate to her at first. “It was hard for me because I would simply not make the choices that she made. This is the entertainment industry, you know. One of the things that they warn you is this may be a very dark place. And I’ve faced the same decisions that Nicole had to make and I chose a different path. I’ve literally been in this situation and I did not make that choice.”

Eventually, Smith found other ways to connect to Nicole. “She would do anything for her family, that’s something that was common. The fact that she doesn’t let anything take her down. It’s like me, I never give up, I never have, and I never will,” she shared. The actress hopes that the viewer will have sympathy for Nicole and will see why she made those choices.

‘The Available Wife’ official poster

The Available Wife is special to Smith in many ways: this marks her first leading role in a feature film and her first time producing a project of such magnitude. “I feel like I was really tapping into my calling. I’ve always been a natural-born leader, I’ve always been able to multitask. I’ve always had that capacity and that ability. When you are an actor you kind of do what you’re told, so the opportunity to have a say-so in how this film goes and how my character is portrayed really made me feel empowered and I just fell like I was in my zone, I felt great!”

When it comes to passions outside television and film, Smith enjoys fitness, yoga, and dance classes. Traveling has become her most favorite thing. Now, with COVID still holding most productions on hold, the actress has more time to enjoy new places and discover new cultures.

The pandemic, however, could not hold Smith away from work for too long. Tyler Perry Studios made history by becoming the first in the country to resume production in July. Smith, who stars as Andrea Barnes in Perry’s hit show Sistas, says she had no reservations about going back to the set. “I trust Tyler Perry and I knew we were gonna be okay. I trust him, I trust the team. We are family now, so I don’t worry about it.”

Courstesy of KJ Smith, IG: @KJSmith

Working for Perry has been lifechanging. The world-renowned filmmaker and entrepreneur is not just her boss, Smith considers him a friend and her biggest inspiration. “I don’t know how he finds time to respond to my text messages, but he always responds, quickly. I mean no one’s done what he’s done in this business.”

Smallwood, who owns MegaMind Media and co-wrote the screenplay to The Available Wife, has also made an impact on Smith and her work. “I call her often, she gives me great advice and especially as an up and coming producer. She has made so many films. She is just so great!”

The Available wife is currently available at ABFF Play through August 30, and will later drop on one of the streaming platforms. Smith says an announcement will be made soon, so stay tuned!

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‘F9: The Fast Saga’ Trailer: The Franchise Is Going To Outer Space

Fast and Furious 9 is heading to outer space

The newest Fast 9 trailer has arrived and it teases a move into space. In the clip, Tyrese Gibson and Ludacris are seen preparing to break the atmosphere in a rocket car.

This time around, the ‘fast’ family will be facing off against John Cena, who is playing Jakob Toretto – Dom and Mia’s brother. He will join forces with Cipher (Charlize Theron’s villainous hacker from The Fate of the Furious).

F9 was originally set to hit theaters on May 22nd, 2020, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will now premiere in theaters on June 25th. Watch the trailer below.

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Film

A Madea Prequel Series Titled “Mabel” is in Development

Actor, director and mogul Tyler Perry is currently developing a prequel series for his famed character Madea at Showtime.

written by Nichelle Taylor

According to  Variety,  the series titled Mabel will unveil the life of Madea before she became the iconic character in Perry’s stage plays and films.

Mabel’s official description notes: “Every great story has to start somewhere, and every legend has a beginning. Long before she was the force of nature known as Madea, she was a smart, fierce, irresistible, dangerous, crazy 20-something black woman named… Mabel Simmons. When She moved to Atlanta in 1972, she set the city — and world  — on fire!”

Showtime has ordered several scripts of the show created by Perry and Tim PalenJaNeika James and JaSheika James will write and executive produce the series alongside Palen and Perry.

Madea, the character who catapulted the career of Tyler Perry, made her first appearance on theatre stages when Perry was solely a playwright. The character has since starred in 9 films and has appeared in 11 total. A few of those starring films include Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea Goes to Jail, and Madea’s Big Happy Family. As of today, all nine Madea films have generated over $500 million around the globe.

There is no word yet on a release date for the series.

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“Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard”: Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek & Ryan Reynolds Are Teaming Up Once Again

The first teaser trailer for The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard, a sequel to the 2017 action-comedy The Hitman’s Bodyguard, has dropped.

Set four years after the events in the original film, bodyguard Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds) once again gets involved with assassin Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson). However, this time, he is forced into action by Darius’s even more volatile wife, the infamous international con artist Sonia Kincaid (Salma Hayek). As Bryce is driven over the edge by his two most dangerous protectees, the trio gets in over their heads in a global plot and soon finds that they are all that stands between Europe and a vengeful and powerful madman (Antonio Banderas). Joining the sequel are also Morgan Freeman, Richard E. Grant, and Frank Grillo.

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard will land in theaters on June 16, 2021.

Watch the first look at the upcoming action comedy below.

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