The new modern and stylish comedy series Harlem gives the audience a front-row seat to the lives of four beautiful, independent, and talented women who live in the mecca of soulful art and Black culture. Camille ( Meagan Good ), Angie ( Shoniqua Shandai ), Quinn (Grace Byers), and Tye (Jerrie Johnson) each tell a specific narrative of feminine energy, captivating a plethora of women into the storyline.
As these sensational actors perform a version of reality, they each hold a unique personal story that adds a unique spice to the series.
Meagan Good – Camille
Meagan Monique Good is a California native that grew up on television. She’s been booking commercials since she was four.
Good played the “it girl” for several major Black teen films in the early 2000s. She had significant roles in House Party 4, Roll Bounce, Stomp the Yard, and You Got Served.
Later in her career, Good began to seek out more crucial parts in Hollywood; roles that challenged her acting chops. She took on a focused role in the Steve Harvery-inspired movie, Think Like a Man.
Her character Mya expressed so many emotions and different levels of strength within her setting that she felt relatable to every woman’s internal struggle with love.
Currently, Good is working on Shazam! Fury of the Gods.
Jerrie Johnson – Tye
Penn State School of Theatre Alum, Jerrie Johnson gained her Bachelor of Arts in theatre with a minor in African American Studies. As an actress, poet, and arts activist, Johnson went on to earn her Master’s of fine arts at the American Conservatory Theater in 2019.
As a Philadelphia native, Johnson had her TV debut on Freeform’s Good Trouble. Recently, Johnson became a published poet with her creative project, The New Normal, an inspired piece by the current pandemic.
Johnson uses her voice to advocate the value of fresh food in underserved communities. She is currently focusing on designing “healing pods” in impacting communities.
Grace Byers – Quinn
Grace Lillis Gealey, now known as Grace Byers, was born on British Overseas territory in the Cayman Islands.
She moved to America in her college years, attending the University of South Florida. She received her bachelor’s degree in Theater Arts. Byers continued her academic journey at the University of Irvine and received her Master’s in Acting.
Byers landed several theatrical productions, short films, and national commercials in Chicago; her acting presence in the world was timestamped in her role as Anika Calhoun in the hit TV series Empire.
She also dedicates an immeasurable amount of energy to activism and the betterment of humankind.
The activist and actress Byers recently published a children’s book, I am Enough. It was released in March of 2020.
Shoniqua Shandai – Angie
Shoniqua Shandai is a New York-born starlet with her eyes on the spotlight. As a trained actress and singer, Shandai spends most of her life honing her skills.
Shandai was brought up in Richmond, Virginia but moved to the land of movie stars. In Hollywood, Shandai graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, where she received music and theatrical performance credentials.
After being in several Hollywood productions, Shandai’s career in front of the camera began to take form. She landed the title role in a Mud Puddle Film, Zola Jumped in.
Shandai is looking to use her platform to represent all shapes of women and break the narrow lens of beauty.
Harlem is now streaming on Prime Video.
‘A Snowy Day in Oakland:’ Nicole Ari Parker Stars in New Dramedy From ‘Sister, Sister’ Creator Kim Bass
A Snowy Day in Oakland is heading into theaters this week. The magical-realism comedy starring Nicole Ari Parker is gearing up to be introduced to the world on Friday, March 17. Hollywood Melanin sat down with the leading star to explore some of the critical issues addressed in the film.
At the center of the story is LaTrice (Parker), the successful psychologist from San Francisco who longs for a more purposeful life. Leaving her unfaithful, high-profile psychiatrist boyfriend and business partner behind, she establishes her practice in a vacant office space on a small commercial block across the bay in Oakland. Surrounded by minority-owned businesses, LaTrice is determined to provide support and gently guide the residents of this predominantly Black neighborhood to embrace the importance of communicating one’s feelings through therapy.
“I think there is an issue of trust in the Black community where we just keep our problems close to our chest,” Parker expressed while discussing mental healthcare in minority groups. “It’s also an expense. It’s an investment. So, when you are trying to make ends meet and prioritize your income, it feels like a luxury. But I think that that’s an expense worth taking.”
Helmed by Sister, Sister creator Kim Bass, the film was initially shot six years ago. Parker says she attributes her involvement in this project not just to the powerful and relevant script but also to “Kim’s vision, his magical realism, his playing with time, and his saturation of color,” she added, “We don’t really get to have that kind of whimsy in most independent Black films.”
Produced by Planet 9 Productions and distributed by People of Culture Studios, this dramatic comedy also explores other meaningful themes like navigating complex relationships and struggles of entrepreneurship. Those conversations are explored through the town’s biggest personalities, Davis (Deon Cole), Jeanette (Loretta Devine), Theona (Kimberly Elise), and Rodney (Evan Ross). The star-studded cast also includes Keith David, Marla Gibbs, Michael Jai White, Tony Plana, Arden Myrin, and others.
Watch A Snowy Day in Oakland in selected theaters on Friday, March 17. Watch the trailer below.
‘Harlem’ Star Shoniqua Shandai Talks 3 Pillars of Success
Shoniqua Shandai is fully immersed in the study of her success. Through her determination, Shandai found a way to reach the precipice of her goals. In an exclusive interview with Hollywood Melanin, Shandai shared an in-depth level of self-perception. She provided personal definitions of courage, confidence, and self-belief.
The world is waking up to the power that Shandai holds. In the new hit Amazon series Harlem, the New York native brings Angie’s character to life. Many would look at her and say she is struggling, playing into the “starving artist” archetype, but if one looks closer, Angie’s only struggle is the battle with the conformity of the world.
Series creator Tracy Oliver worked with Meagan Good, Grace Byers, Jerrie Johnson, alongside Shandai, to share a raw narrative of Black women who have the goal of living out their version of happiness.
Angie embodies liberty, a freeform display of what it means to be dedicated to pursuing a dream. Off-screen, Shandai knows the level of commitment it takes to create a world that fits a personal vision. It takes a custom-made level of courage, confidence, and self-belief. It takes a personal standard of hustle.
Conquering the fear of being one’s true self ignites the labor in building confidence. Shandai admitted the process was in layers. “I found the confidence to be myself in having tried to be everyone else and it not working,” she continued, “I might as well show up as me–as vividly, as boldly, as audaciously as possible. You have to live for yourself.”
I found the confidence to be myself in having tried to be everyone else and it not working
Courage is defined as “the ability to do something that frightens one.” To be one’s true self is nearly impossible without courage. It’s the secret ingredient to personal success. Before every interview, the repeated chorus from loved ones is “to be yourself,” but that takes courage. Shandai opened up and shared her process.
“Courage came from having to build confidence – I am who I am.” The actor and singer continued to explain that her support from her mother, adjacent to her self-determination fueled her confidence.
Courage came from having to build confidence
To be unstoppable, there has to be a strong foundation of self-belief. The approval of others is fickle. Self-belief might be the only thread left to hang on to when no one else is willing to share blind faith in chasing dreams.
The Amazon series star considered the solution to working when the motivation isn’t there, “I am incredibly future-oriented. Being so future-oriented has saved my life.” Shandai said. She admitted to reverting back, and taking baby steps in order to prepare for bigger strides. Each day, she pulled herself closer into the vision.
Shandai said she is most happy when she is cooking success in multiple pots. Her next debut is coming in through audible wavelengths. As a singer and songwriter, she will be looking for a deeper level of self through music.
Her first single, with visuals directed by her co-star Good, is called, Something About You. Nothing has been officially released yet, but Shandai is ready for this part of herself to rise to the surface.
Through her personal definition of courage, confidence, and self belief, Shandai always finds the strength to keep extending her reach, to keep answering the calling on her life. Stay connected with Shandai on Instagram and Twitter. Bingewatch Harlem on Amazon Prime.
Robin Givens Talks Guest-starring on ABC’s Queens
Givens’ episode titled “Let the Past Be the Past” will air on Tuesday, February 8
Robin Givens is set to appear on the all-new episode of ABC’s music drama Queens. We sat down with the Ambitions star to discuss her joining the show and take a deeper dive into her pivotal scenes.
In Queens, we get a first-hand look at the dynasty built by the hip-hop quartet of women – Naomi (Brandy), Brianna (Eve), Valeria (Nadine Velazquez), and Jil (Naturi Naughton). Viewers meet the group on the verge of claiming their place at the top of the music game for the second time.
The upcoming episode titled ‘Let the Past Be the Past’ will feature Givens as Eric’s ex-wife, who will pay him an unexpected visit. Once the manager of the girl group, Eric will have to confront his former spouse to help save the future of Nasty Girl Records.
Last week ET exclusively released the first look images of Givens as Robin and her intense sit-down with Brandy’s Naomi – the woman who might’ve caused the breakup of her and Eric’s marriage. See the photos below.
The official ABC synopsis reads, “Queens follows a fractured girl group living in the shadows of their once prominent hip-hop dynasty. After their popularity skyrocketed with the success of their chart-topping single, “Nasty Girl,” they were once regarded as one of the greatest girl groups of their generation. However, the group was plagued by internal conflict and jealousy despite critical and commercial success. Estranged and out of touch, the four women, now in their 40s, reunite for a chance to recapture their fame and regain the swagger they had in the ’90s when they were legends in the hip-hop world.”
Watch Queens on Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.