Tag Archives: Juneteenth

19Jun/20

Alexis Chikaeze Chats about her Character in Miss Juneteenth

Synopsis: Built like a bird, Turquoise Jones is a single mom who holds down a household, a rebellious teenager, and pretty much everything that goes down at Wayman’s BBQ & Lounge. Turquoise is also a bona fide beauty queen—she was once crowned Miss Juneteenth, a title commemorating the day slavery was abolished in Texas. Life didn’t turn out as beautifully as the title promised, but Turquoise, determined to right her wrongs, is cultivating her daughter, Kai, to become Miss Juneteenth, even if Kai wants something else.

Miss Juneteenth is a compelling film that debuts on VOD just in time for Juneteenth, the most celebrated commemoration marking the end of slavery. The film stars Nicole Beharie (42, Sleepy Hollow), Kendrick Sampson (Insecure), and newcomer Alexis Chikaeze. Alexis is not only an up-and-coming actress, she is also an activist against racial injustice. The soon to be HBCU student took time from her busy schedule to talk to Taji Mag about her new film Miss Juneteenth. 

Dapper Dr. Feel (DDF): What does Juneteenth mean to you and why is it important? 

Alexis Chikaeze (AC): It is about the end of slavery, it’s about our freedom to speak about what is right. Back in the day, we weren’t able to, but now we can speak up for change. 

FYI: Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Also known as Emancipation Day and Black Independence Day. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX, and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation was dated January 1, 1863, however, many slave owners continued to hold their slaves captive after the announcement. In turn, Juneteenth became a symbolic date representing African American freedom.

Alexis Chikaeze

DDF: Was this your first film?

AC: This is my first big role ever and my first audition ever. It’s surreal, a week after I signed with my agent, I got the audition. 

DDF: How much of the Kai character was relatable to you? 

AC: Honestly, we are just about the same. It made embodying the character a little easier. Kai is outgoing, she’s headstrong, she is willing to do just about anything to make sure that she can do what she loves. Kai loves her mother and I feel she was set on showing her mother that dancing was her passion. She is really trying to convince her mother just as I had to convince my parents that I wanted to pursue acting. My parents are Nigerian immigrants and the preference that was given career-wise was Doctor or Engineer. Venturing out into other professions is not really something to consider. When I first started, they were skeptical. They were questioning if acting would secure my future. It’s similar to how Kai’s mother wants the best for her. 

“Hold those things that tell your history and protect them. During slavery, who was able to read or write or keep anything? The ability to have somebody to tell your story to is so important. It says: ‘I was here. I may be sold tomorrow. But you know I was here.” – Maya Angelou

DDF: What was it like working with Nicole Beharie and Channing Godfrey Peoples?

AC: Both of them are very humble individuals. It was a wonderful experience working with Nicole, she’s kind-hearted and high spirited. She was so happy to help me and, even before shooting, we would do some exercises to make sure we were both ready mentally and physically. Anytime I felt like I needed help or had to ask Nicole a question, she was more than happy to assist me in any way she could. As for Channing, she allowed me to put into the character what I thought would fit the character and use my own perspective. During the times I was frustrated and hard on myself she reassured me and gave me words of encouragement. 

Nicole Beharie

DDF: What do you think people will take away from the film?

AC: I really hope that people take the time to learn about Black History, the Black community, who we are as Black people, and how rich our culture is. I think more people, myself included, are taking time to learn more about Black history because we don’t learn enough in this educational system.

Miss Juneteenth is a must-watch that I found to be similar to Mommy Dearest but better and more relatable. So much so, that after the film I had to call my mother to tell her “I love you and thank you for your sacrifices.” With Nicole Beharie’s ability to pull the audience in through her character’s obstacles and Alexis’ charm, this is a film many should enjoy on Juneteenth. 

Directed and written by  Channing Godfrey Peoples 

Starring Nicole Beharie, Kendrick Sampson, and Alexis Chikaeze

21Jun/18
Luke Cage

Luke Cage Celebrates Juneteenth in D.C.

Juneteenth is a day that pays tribute to the freedom of slaves and their opportunity to establish themselves as respected people. What better way to celebrate Juneteenth than spend the evening at the Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.)  watching one of our greatest Black fictional heroes, freedom fighter Luke Cage, a bulletproof Black man who fights for Harlem’s people. Netflix and Spotify hosted an advanced screening with an afterparty filled with old-school hip-hop, jazz, and other genres of music featured in the Luke Cage series.

Luke Cage Season 2: The Screening dived into the mysterious past of Luke and other characters like main villain Mariah which turns out to be intricate in the development and existence of the characters. The new villain this season, the Bush Master, has been featured in the trailers and looks to be a challenge to Luke Cage both mentally and physically. As we discover his connection to the city of Harlem and Mariah, he looks to be a foe that will have Luke Cage teaming with the antagonist Mariah. In this case, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, really holds true in this season.

One of the major themes in season 2 is self-reflection – what are the true identities and morals of Luke and some of the other characters. It is something that we all can relate to as we partake in this journey called life. I think that by the end of the season, we will truly be able to see growth and self-discovery in the characters. We may also be able to see the facades of these characters finally be revealed. With all that said, Luke Cage season 2 will definitely keep audiences engaged. Beware, you may be tempted to binge because of all that this season has to offer!

The Teacha: KRS-One

Luke Cage

KRS One

Followed by the screening of Luke Cage, the infamous and rhapsodist rhymer KRS-One gave a short concert that provided energy to the crowd with his flows and hype freestyle. His words consisted of knowledge, influence, and support of the unified people. KRS-One covered oppression, deportation, and strengths of unity. KRS-One showed that he is not only a lyricist but a teacher as he went into the some of the backgrounds of deportation and illegal immigrants. To sum it up, no human is illegal which many in the audience agreed is a valid statement. By the end of his concert, he showed why he is a major part of hip hop culture. He provides entertainment that is laden with substance and quality content.

Midnight Hour at Harlem’s Paradise

Luke Cage

Midnight Hour

While watching Luke Cage, some of us fans dreamt about exploring the Marvel world in real life. Well, Netflix did just that by recreating Harlem’s Paradise in the Kennedy Center’s Atrium. Decorated with purple and red hues with white decor, copies of the Notorious B.I.G painting that can be seen in Mariah’s office were placed around the space. The mood really set the atmosphere as if Mariah herself was watching us network and dance with her lover/partner ‘Shades’ at her side.

Luke Cage

Joi

The entertainment was opened by the music group and soundtrack directors the Midnight Hour, a group consisting of producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad and composer Adrian Young. They performed jazzy tunes that bring back the feel of Digable Planets with a hint of Wynton Marsalis. During the show, they brought acts Joi, known for her unique and groovy tunes under the Dungeon Family and talented guitarist, aka B.B. King 2.0, Kingfish.

The night ended with a surprise guest no one expected, Mr. God MC himself, Rakim. When he got to stage the crowd erupted and the evening was set for another explosion of hip hop culture fun. From his hits ” I Ain’t No Joke” to ” Paid In Full,” his lyricism echoed, what seemed to be, across all of DC combined with the crowd that rapped in unison. Well, close to it anyway.

One of the best lines from the night came from KRS-One. He said that bulletproof Black men do exist and those are the ones that are intelligent, educated, and not doing negativity in the streets. As we watch Luke Cage fight for his Harlem people in this next season on Netflix, let’s fight for each other in a positive way.

Check out Luke Cage Season 2 on Netflix June 22, 2018!