The Making of the BET Movie & ReShonda Tate Billingsley’s “Let The Church Say Amen!”

Hello World,

say amenTomorrow night at 8 p.m./7 C, best-selling author ReShonda Tate Billingsley will realize a dream come true – the network premiere of her movie “Let The Church Say Amen,” based on her book of the same name. But it has been a long road to her dream….Read about her journey below and by all means, watch the movie tomorrow night!!!

From a previous post…

Bishop T.D. Jakes’ MegaFest 2013 in Dallas is making headlines from Tyler Perry laying hands on the bishop AND donating $1 million to help build a youth center to mega artists Jennifer Hudson, Erica Campbell, Joe and more performing at the Women of Purpose concert!

Aside from these fantastic events, it was also the premiere of “Let the Church Say Amen,” a movie based on the best-selling novel by ReShonda Tate Billingsley, which was featured as a part of the First Annual International Faith & Family Film Festival at MegaFest 2013 ! As a fellow author, I am truly inspired by ReShonda’s success, and I wanted to highlight her achievement here. Below is a summary of the movie.”

Twenty-one-year-old Rachel Jackson (Naturi Naughton) is a wayward preacher’s kid who is struggling to pull her life together. With a six-year-old son out of wedlock and a high school diploma, Rachel’s mission in life is to marry her son’s father in order to forge a traditional and respectable family and regain her father’s respect.

LET THE CHURCH SAY AMEN is a powerful journey through one family’s trials and tribulations and a remarkable story of reconciliation and love. This two-hour movie of the week will be a BET Premiere Cinema event starring Steve Harris, Naturi Naughton, Lela Rochon, Hosea Sanchez and Collins Curtis Pennie. The film is Executive produced by Reina King and co-produced by Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere, Shelby Stone, Roger Bobb and Regina King who is also making her directorial debut. LET THE CHURCH SAY AMEN is a BET Networks, Royal Ties and Flavor Unit Production.

Below is my interview with ReShonda! Check it out!

ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Regina King, Hosea Sanchez & Brely Evans

ReShonda Tate Billingsley, Regina King, Hosea Sanchez & Brely Evans

1. As a fellow author, when you wrote your book “Let the Church Say Amen,” did you ever dream that it could be made into a movie? When I first start writing, I don’t do it with a movie in mind, but of course, like many authors, I dream for all of them to be on the big screen. It just doesn’t play a role in my writing process.

2. And for my fellow authors and dreamers out there, how did this movie come to be? By being nice. I know that sounds like a cliché but I bought a book for a woman who didn’t have enough money for a book. She gave it to her sister who worked for an airport bookstore. One day, Juanita Bynum was in that store and the sister convinced Rev. Bynum to buy my book. Long story short, she did, loved it and got in touch with me to ask my permission to take it to Hollywood. The journey to where I am today was a long one, as we’ve had several delays over the years, funding issues, and normal “movie delays.” But Regina King, who was set to direct the movie and her sister/business partner Reina King, believed in the project and kept fighting for it. Eventually, they partnered with Queen Latifah’s Flava Unit and got a deal with BET, who was getting into original programming. They bought four of my other novels, including “Everybody Say Amen,” “Say Amen, Again,”and “I Know I’ve Been Changed.”

3. How is the movie different from your book or did the movie match what happened in your book? As with all novels that are made into movies, you will see a condensed version of my novel. Many people don’t know this, but they take a 300-400 page novel and shrink it to about 90 pages, so a lot of things have to go. Although there are a few key changes, they definitely captured the essence of the book.

4. What has been the most surprising experience you’ve had as you watched your words being turned into a movie? The most surprising experience I would have to say is that they let me be a part of it from beginning to end. When production companies buy your novel, you sign the contract and receive your check, which is normally where the communications stop. It is rare that they let an author be involved, so I am extremely blessed to be involved behind the scenes, and on camera. Yes, I also have a small part in the movie…yes, a speaking part. But perhaps the best feeling was watching the crowd reaction at the recent screening of the movie. I had seen the movie, but watching it with a crowd, that loved it, made me feel …. Full.

5. I know you probably can’t pick favorites, but what actor in the movie is your favorite and why? And if you don’t want to answer that, how have the actors brought your story to life in a way that you haven’t thought about before? What was it like to work with Regina King? Oh, my God, I can’t. For real, because they were all phenomenal. I couldn’t have asked for a better cast! Each actor brings their own flavor to make their character come to life. And to see the passion and commitment they brought to the roles meant the world. It’s like each person chosen was meant for that role. Casting director Robbie Reed did an AMAZING job. And Regina, I simply love her. Both her and her sister. They made sure that I was not only included, but happy with the direction of the story and the characters. I was a fan of Regina before. But just based on her on-screen work. Now, it’s how she is off-screen that has made me a fan for life.

6. How was your film chosen to be screened at MegaFest, and is this the first time the film has been shown to an audience? What did you think? What did the audience think? It was chosen to be screened at MegaFest because of T.D. Jake’s relationship with BET. BET believes in this project and worked with him to make it the official television entry at the festival. This was the first time it was shown to an audience. Seeing it for the first time on the big screen was priceless. I’ve never been so excited and proud. (I only wished my mom could have been sitting in the audience watching.) The audience, which was a seating capacity of 800 people, was full and we had to turn away hundreds of people. They loved it. They laughed, cried and gave a standing ovation when it was over. It was the highlight of my literary career. (That, and winning the NAACP Image Award in 2012)

7. What’s next for the movie? And also, besides this current movie, which book would you like to see made into a movie next and why? I don’t have an actual release date yet. They’re still working out the details because there is the possibility that it could go to the big screen (say a prayer, y’all). Once I know, I’ll make sure all my readers know as well. As I said earlier, I would love to see all my books made into a movie. But honestly, if I had to pick, my top three would be “The Secret She Kept,” “Holy Rollers,” and “I Know I’ve Been Changed.”

live tweetAlso, I will be live tweeting “Let The Church Say Amen!” Use the hashtag #ChurchSayAmenBET!

Any thoughts?

Matchmaking Failures & Online Dating Adventures: ‘Born Again Virgin’ Season 1 Episode 5 Recap…

Born Again Virgin Cast  TV One

Hello World,

I’ve tried online dating before and had mixed results. Through eHarmony, I met a gentlemanly attorney who actually lived within miles of my home but we had never crossed paths. While it wasn’t a love connection and we have both since married, he was probably best candidate I met online. Another guy I met through the same website gave me the creeps from jump. We met for dinner, and then he wanted me to get in his car and ride clear cross town to some spot where we would play adult games like at Dave & Buster’s or Top Golf. Mama didn’t raise no fool. I politely declined, shut down the date and sped home.

So on last night’s episode of “Born Again Virgin,” Jenna laments her online dating experience, particularly as she is trying to do it (online dating) while not doing it (having sex). It seems that all of the men profess to want “love and happiness” when they really want s.e.x. While Jenna and Kelly are checking out a dating website, Tara breezes in and announces she has a date with an Atlanta Hawks baller. And apparently, it’s her second baller. Jenna asks, “How did you meet another baller?” To which Tara responds, “I exist.” When she bends over in a tiny black leather skirt in front of them, her roommates see that her assets probably have something to do with it.

So Jenna decides to take a different approach to dating since the online method is getting her nowhere. She asks her hunky neighbor, the delectable Donovan, to set her up with one of his friends because “hot men travel in packs.” It’s clear that Jenna and Donovan are attracted to one another, but she doesn’t think and Donovan tacitly agrees that he can date her and respect her “born again” boundaries. Still the both of them agree to set up with one another with an attractive friend, and Donovan even volunteers to host the double date dinner party at his home. And he even agrees to cook for the group as he is a “lawyer by trade but a chef at heart.” Could he be even more perfect? A man who loves to cook and can do it well is a rare gem..

Ever the exhibitionist, Tara decides to take it up a notch and announces to her friends that she will pose nearly nude for Black Sweat magazine particularly as other more famous exhibitionists like K. Michelle and Amber Rose have posed for the magazine. Kelly is horrified and sets out to convince her friend that the magazine cover will hurt rather than help her career, not to mention her reputation.

Jenna, on the other hand, chooses a chubby girlfriend from college who is “really nice” to set up with Donovan. Before Brooke arrives at Donovan’s place, Jenna taste tests the menu for the evening as Donovan feeds her. Cue soft music in the background with Donovan’s suggestive words that “food can be so sensual,” and its clear that the two don’t need anyone else for a hot date. And then Brooke arrives. And she is no longer fat. And she is extra curvy. And that is one advantage that formerly chubby women have over naturally slim women. And I can say that since I was once chubby. Naturally slim women tend to be just that: slim. But when a chubby woman loses weight, she still has curves. Jenna, who looks like one of those naturally slim girls, is noticeably annoyed as Donovan and Brooke seem to hit it off.

Meanwhile, Kelly and Tara go through the drive through of a fast food spot where Kelly knows that she knows the pretty cashier but cannot remember where she knows her from. When Kelly tells the cashier that she knows her from somewhere cannot remember exactly where, the cashier conveniently pulls out an issue of Black Sweat magazine as she was on the cover of the magazine in 2012. She is flattered that she has a “fan” in Kelly. She turns to Tara and says “One cover does not a Kim Kardashian make.” It’s obvious that Kelly set up the encounter, but Tara is still not deterred from her plan of being a cover girl.

At Donovan’s dinner party, Brooke is impressed with his use of demitasse cups for coffee and crème fraîche for a blueberry tart he has made. But Jennatank pronounces him as “persnickety” and implies that he is gay. The evening gets worse when her date for the evening, Dejante arrives and addresses Jenna as “Shawty.” I actually like being referred to as “Shawty,” but that is another post for another day. Short and skinny and adorned in athletic gear complete with a baseball cap to the side, he simply does not compare to Donovan’s tall, dark and handsome which is exactly how Donovan wants it. Plus, he announces during dinner that he contracted two STDs from his previous ex-wives and is therefore celibate. When Brooke is not scared off by Jenna’s insinuations about Donovan, Jenna intentionally spills the blueberry tart on Brooke while making it look like an accident. After Brooke and Dejante leave, Donovan reveals that he was never really interested in Brooke but just went along with Jenna’s matchmaking experiment for her sake. He explains his lack of interest can be traced back to one thing: she is not Jenna. Awww…So obviously, they will be cooking up something other than food in future episodes…

When demonstrating what can happen to a career after posing nearly nude on a magazine cover doesn’t work, Kelly shows up at the actual magazine photo shoot. Tara is being treated like royalty including the photographer remembering her as a child star on a Mable’s Biscuit commercial. It is not until a long line of women wearing black bathing suits arrive as opposed to Tara’s white bathing suit made of “six pieces of string,” that she wonders what is the photographer’s vision for the shoot. In addition to the other women, she also discovers that mud will also be involved. Apparently, she will be atop a pile of muddy women. Even Tara realizes the concept is degrading and storms off with Kelly in tow.

So Jenna & Donovan are free to continue to explore their flirtation, Tara’s career and reputation are intact and Kelly helped….Remember that Shake N Bake commercial where the little girl says in a Southern drawl,  “And I helped?”

Yes, I’m a pop culture Ph.D.

Any thoughts?




3 Reasons Why We Should Trust the Father, the Son & the Holy Spirit Instead of Bill Cosby, Josh Duggar & Jared Fogle


In my Sesame Street voice, this post is brought to you by the number 3.

Hello World,

2015 is shaping up to be the worst year ever for three pop culture icons: Bill Cosby, Josh Duggar & Jared Fogle. And we still have four months left in the year…

These three have starred in a trifecta of sex scandals this year. A New York magazine cover photograph earlier this month featured 35 women who accused Bill Cosby of sexually assaulting them over the years. But most damning of all was his own “admission in a newly released court record that he had obtained quaaludes to give young women with whom he wanted to have sex,” according to a New York Times article. And if admitting molesting young girls wasn’t enough, as of a few days ago, “19 Kids and Counting” star Josh Duggar, a married man, has now confirmed he is a cheater too. And he is no run-of-the-mill cheater who met some chick  at a T.J. Fridays or Applebee’s. It was confirmed a few days ago that he used the popular Ashley Madison, a website for cheating spouses. And if the scandals that are Bill Cosby and Josh Duggar weren’t enough, Jared Fogle, who became a spokesman for Subway after his inspiring story of losing over 200 pounds by eating the sandwiches, has now been accused of having sex with minors and receiving child porn!

These men are a ménage à trois of messy, a trio of trips, a triplicity of duplicity, a threesome of creeps, a troika of trolls,  a triad of tribulations, a trichotomy of tricks, a ternion of vermin, a trilogy of tragedy, essentially an unworthy triumvirate these three…allegedly…

1. Bill Cosby as Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable was once hailed as America’s favorite father, but as of this year, he has been knocked off of his pedestal, proving again the only perfect Father is Father God.

And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Matthew 23:9

2. Let some conservative Republicans tell it, Josh Duggar was the embodiment of the perfect son, but as of this year with 2 sex scandals and counting, the Truth is only one Son is worthy of worship. straight

Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him. John 9:35-38

3. The obese nation that we are, Jared Fogle was an inspiration for countless Americans as he was able to lose 245 pounds and for the most part, keep it off. But the Subway guy in no way compares to the inspiration provided by the Holy Spirit if only we would seek His help.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

The only perfect One is the triune Godhead, the only perfect Trinity…

Any thoughts?