Backstage during Selma’s filming with Wendell Pierce, Stan Houston and Clay Chappell
*“It’s great to see men and women absolutely changing the makeup of how the country is,” said NAACP Image Award winner Wendell Pierce (Ray, “Suits”) who plays Minister Hosea Williams, a member of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s confidants. “…And that’s not an easy feat…in threat of life…Ava (the director) captured that.”
Selma tells the story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s 1965 visit to Selma to walk to Montgomery, Alabama to protest the tactics used by voting officials and authorities to suppress voting by black people. It was during a time in history where the threat to his life was imitate. Kennedy and Malcolm X had been murder three weeks before. Hoover was trying to stop Martin from changing the dominate white-only voting policy in Alabama by any means necessary. President Johnson was hesitant to circumvent the Alabama Governor or the local police chief.
“I went through a lot getting into character,” said Stan Houston, who played Selma’s Sheriff Jim Clark who allowed the suppression of Black voting rights to take place, about the backlash he is getting in his hometown for playing a local “figure head” in a black produced film. “It messed with my soul a little bit. I live in the town he was born and raised…and died. We brought a house there…his third cousin is a neighbor. I hear ‘nigger lover’ a lot.”
Houston said back stage all the cast and crew prayed for him so he could get to the “dark place” and out unarmed. He said one by one they encouraged him with hugs.
“We gathered in a circle in prayer,” Stan said. “I was 1000% committed. It was good training. I have only been doing this for 6 years.”
Clay Chappell (A Madea Christmas), best known for his role in Footloose, played the prejudice registrar.
“I audition initially for one of the Klansman,” said Clay about how he landed the role of the registrar. Someone suggested that he audition for the registrar role instead, and he did. “We talked about that type character. I read for Ava. I am so grateful she suggested it, Ava liked it.”
Chappell said he was only on the set one day, but the cast and atmosphere was so inspiring it made a lasting impression on him. He said, “We had sat around all day…I think Mya Angelo past away that day. My buddy played Sheriff Jim Clark, he said they all gathered in prayer for him. It really truly was tight-knit. I only worked one day, but it had a lasting impression. When we had lunch on set everyone was so nice to me, David (Oyelowo) knew my name and Oprah told stories.”
Selma, in theaters now, stars David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King, Jr.; Carmen Ejogo (Sparkle) is Coretta Scott King. The Paramount Pictures’ presentation of Selma also stars Oprah (The Butler), Academy Award nominated Tom Wilkinson (Fury) as President Johnson; Grammy Award winner Common (LUV) as James Bevel or organized the Selma walk; Ledisi Young as Mahalia Jackson; Andre’ Holland as Andrew Young; Niecy Nash (“The Soul Man”), Colman Domingo as Ralph Abernathy; Dylan Baker as J. Edgar Hoover; Academy Award nominated Tim Roth as Gov. George Wallace; Niguel Thatch as Malcolm X ; Emmy Award winner Martin Sheen (“West Wing”), and Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding, Jr. (Red Tails). Directed by Ava DuVernay (Middle of Nowhere, I Will Follow) and written by Paul Webb Selma is Rated PG-13.
“I wanted to be very specific in whatever I did,” said Pierce (Horrible Bosses, The Wire”), who will be starring in the new CBS remake of “The Odd Couple,” about playing Minister Hosea Williams. “He was a hero of mine. He had a World-War II history. He had a television show so he was out going and funny. Very courageous…There is an iconic image of him standing there (next to MLKJr during the walk). The courage they had in the face of fear. “
Sean Combs’ Executive V. P. Dia Simms assists in building the Ciroc Vodka Innovations Empire
*“Its fun, exciting…coolest part is there is never a dull moment. I am enjoying it,” said Dia Simms, Executive Vice President of Sean Combs Ciroc Vodka Innovations, Combs Wine and Spirits. “Currently we have a new tequila we just launched. We are going state by state. I am so proud of it. We look at 100 different kinds….for one and a half years. I think we have the best.”
Simms is a corporate executive, philanthropist and public speaker. Her career stated at the Department of Defense, then she went into advertising sales. She was later solicited by Sean Combs to work with him in the music business and other business ventures. She started as his assistant and quickly rose through the ranks to Chief of Staff of his executive office, then into her current position as Executive Vice President of The Blue Flame Agency. As his Exec VP Dia oversees the strategic execution of all brands under The Blue Flame Agency, and his House of Combs, which includes Revolt TV, Aquahydrate and Sean John, as well as the marketing and advertising strategies for Ciroc Ultra Premium Vodka.
“We serve all cultures of people, all populations are critical,” Dia pointed out when asked about their target consumers. “We do make sure all our brands…life styles fits (when promoting in the community). We focus on a new American mind-set.”
Dia says Sean’s tequila is the official toast drink of the NBA. Under her leadership Ciroc Ultra Premium has grown 1000%. She provides entrepreneurship training to high school students and sits on the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem. She holds a Bachelors from Morgan State University, and a Masters in Management from Florida Institute of Technology.
(Syndicated Columnist: Eunice Moseley, has an estimated weekly readership of over ¼ million with The Pulse of Entertainment. She is also a Public Relations/Business consult at Freelance Associates, and Promotions Director (at-large) for The Baltimore Times. Her Event/”Uplifting Minds II”: The 16th annual “Uplifting Minds II” free entertainment conference arrives in Baltimore Sat. April 18, 2015 at Security Square Mall. www.UpliftingMinds2.com, www.ThePulseofEntertainment.com.)