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Written By: Michael “Hey Mikey” Fanning

Hollywood is here FOREVER! The stages and the names change, but one thing for sure is that Tinsel Town will always be looking for talented and fresh faces. When that face also happens to be tall, dark, and handsome, the look is all the more exciting and tantalizing. Meet Toby Onwumere, a rising star that just so happens to meet the criteria of “tall, dark, and handsome,” and most of all talented!

toby onwumere kai empire

Toby is taking hearts and Fox’s Empire by storm as “Kai,” Jamal Lyon’s (Jussie Smollett) love interest and now fiancé! As Kai, Toby is doing groundbreaking work, as he showcases the life and love of a Black, gay, and HIV positive man against the backdrop of family drama, corporate sabotage, and ignorance. “I feel honored to play him [Kai] and bring his story to the forefront…It’s time to really inform people and push forward with representation and inclusivity, all while delivering a really unforgettable story.”

Toby is a first generation Nigerian-American, hailing from Dayton, Ohio and has always dreamt of being an actor. He counts his parents, Fidelis and Prisca, as being the driving force behind his pursuit of the arts as they allowed and encouraged him to do what he loves. “My parents were traditional, but not in the sense of what they expected me to be…usually when you’re Nigerian you the career paths your parents want for you are pretty narrow, you have to be like a doctor or lawyer, for them to do that is really amazing.” Toby admits he is stoked to be on Empire, revealing he has been a fan of the show since its inception. “Man I love it [Empire] I would be in class and thinking to myself I’m gonna be on that show one day, and here we are [he laughs].”

jussie smollett and toby onwumere empire kai jamal

Empire continues to be a ratings giant with no sign of slowing down in its fifth season. However, in an interesting plot twist the series has flashed forwarded two years into the future and we find that The Lyons are mostly in shambles. Lucious and Cookie continue to fight to win Empire back, Andre is incarcerated for Anika’s death, and Hakeem is unable to perform after a grave injury. Jamal, however, has flourished in his self-imposed exile to London, finding new label and love with Kai. Their relationship stands to be the strongest one we have seen for Jamal as Kai is empathetic, intelligent, and compassionate. Toby admits he and Kai are very similar in those aspects, but fundamentally different in others. “Well for one I’m straight [he laughs] and then I’m way too silly! Kai is more straight-laced and serious. I like to laugh and joke and be goofy.” Kai’s storyline is definitely a serious one as no shows have really shown a relationship like he and Jamal’s. Although the Kai’s HIV status has been a topic on the show, the larger phenomenon of him being with a partner who is negative and on PREP (via whatisprep.org, PrEP means Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, and it’s the use of anti-HIV medications to keep HIV negative people from becoming infected. PrEP is approved by the FDA and has been shown to be safe and effective at preventing HIV infection.”) “The storyline was meant to be more informative than anything else. People still have these notions about HIV/AIDS from the eighties and so many advancements have been made since then…the love between the two of them [Jamal and Kai] shows that everyone deserves love and can be loved. Kai just so happens to be HIV positive, but he really loves Jamal and he’s a great person. That’s what counts here love…The scene when they proposed to each other was really just magical and powerful.  It’s why I’m honored to play this character…this is really encouraging dialogue and I think people just need to be more open minded and educated.”

toby onwumere kai empire

Toby continues to look forward to the rest of this season of Empire and hints he has some pretty amazing projects in the works that he is not ready to share. However, he did reveal his holiday season will be international as he travels to Europe to bring in Christmas and the New Year. If 2019 is any bigger than 2018 was for him then we know he is about to be a household name! He advises aspiring actors to “Really study the craft. Take the classes and remain diligent. If this is what you want stick with it and never give up!” Catch Toby every Wednesday night at 8 PM EST on Fox’s Empire!

Celebrity Interviews

Saweetie Talks Music & Black Lives Matter on Quibi’s Musicology w/ Tim Kash

‘Tap In’ and ‘My Type’ Rapper, Saweetie, sits down with Tim Kash and discusses her upcoming album, as well as the current headlines surrounding the speculation of lynchings and how she is involved in the Black Lives Matter movement.

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saweetie

‘Tap In’ and ‘My Type’ Rapper, Saweetie, sits down with Tim Kash and discusses her upcoming album, as well as the current headlines surrounding the speculation of lynchings and how she is involved in the Black Lives Matter movement.

tim kash saweetie interview

We are really glad to hear Saweetie’s forthcoming album is nearly here. She has been in the spotlight for a minute now and her fans (we are fans) deserve to hear a full body of work from her.

saweetie

More importantly, however, we love to hear she is doing her part in the Black Lives Matter movement. Someone with a platform as large as Saweetie’s is definitely needed in this good fight! These recent lynchings of Black men in various parts of the country being labeled as suicides is nothing short of nonsense and murder at the hands of white supremacists. Thanks Saweetie for speaking out!

You can catch Saweetie’s interview with Tim Kash below! Happy viewing!

 

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Celebrity Interviews

WATCH NOW: OWN’s Exclusive Press Roundtable w/ The Cast of “Greenleaf!”

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Greenleaf season 5

It Is hard to believe that after five seasons the upcoming season of OWN’s hit series, “Greenleaf,” will be its last. For years now we have watched this family and their megachurch grow, fall, change, and fight all in the name of family, dignity, and God.

Now, it is time to say goodbye, but before the season premiere airs tomorrow we were privileged to be able to chat with a few cast members of the Greenleaf during a Vimeo roundtable press conference! Yep Merle Dandridge (Grace Greenleaf), Keith Davidson (Bishop James Greenleaf), Lynn Whitfield (Pastor Mae Greenleaf), Lamman Rucker (Jacob Greenleaf), and Deborah Joy Winans (Charity Greenleaf), and the series’ creator/director, Craig Wright were all there and we got the details for this amazing final season!

Greenleaf season 5

Before the press conference we were allowed to screen the first two episodes of the upcoming season and needless to say they are riveting! You will find the Greenleaf Family collectively faces the end of an era with power and ownership of Calvary shifting to Harmony & Hope (H&H). Individually, Grace faces a tragic setback in her relationship with her estranged son, AJ, Kerissa and Jacob play chess as they move towards an impending divorce, Mae and The Bishop move forward with their wedding plans and the next chapter of their lives, and Charity has become the black sheep of her family, viewed as a traitor by her mother and sister while raging against Phillip Demars for spurning her and choosing Judy Whitmore. Whether the Greenleafs can pull it together to somehow save Calvary–and see their family through harrowing times–remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure, they won’t go down without a fight!

Greenleaf season 5

The cast was asked questions by various publications sand touched on how the show has helped humanize church leadership, which storylines besides their own are the most invested in, and even behind the scenes hijinks we never knew anything about.

You can catch the full interview by clicking this link https://vimeo.com/428978269 and using the following password: PressEvent4Greenleaf.

Greenleaf season 5

We hate to see Greenleaf ending, but the news of a spinoff has us glowing. We are sure this is not the last we have seen of this family. You all be sure to tune into season premiere of Greenleaf, tomorrow night, Tuesday at 9/8 PM EST/CTR!

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Celebrity Interviews

Actor Turned “Monster Savior,” Meet “October Faction’s” Gabriel Darku!

The world needs saving from things that go “bump in the night,” thankfully there are people for that.  Enter “October Faction!” “October Faction” is a series based on a family of monster hunters, The Allens; Fred, Deloris, and their twins Geoff and Viv. The family’s unusual lives take a turn for the worst when a dangerous and supernatural figure from their past forces family secrets to the light. 

The show has been met with rave reviews in large part to the story line and amazing cast, including the handsome, talented actor who portrays “Geoff Allen,” Gabriel Darku!

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gabriel darku

The world needs saving from things that go “bump in the night,” thankfully there are people for that.  Enter “October Faction!” “October Faction” is a series based on a family of monster hunters, The Allens; Fred, Deloris, and their twins Geoff and Viv. The family’s unusual lives take a turn for the worst when a dangerous and supernatural figure from their past forces family secrets to the light. 

The show has been met with rave reviews in large part to the story line and amazing cast, including the handsome, talented actor who portrays “Geoff Allen,” Gabriel Darku!

Gabriel hails from what most of us Americans would consider “The Mysterious Beyond,” having been born in Saint John, New Brunswick and raised in Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories. He always knew he wanted to be someone great, and was known for being highly athletic as a national level gymnast. However, he found his calling as an actor, beginning with school theater and later studying at The Toronto Film School. “I always had a love for it [acting] and began to realize this was what I wanted to do with my life…I can’t say it’s been easy but I’ve been really fortunate to have some awesome experiences and do some really amazing work…” That “amazing work” now includes the supernatural thriller, “October Faction.” 

gabriel darku

As aforementioned the series centers around a family of monster hunters, but is set against the backdrop of real world issues and occurrences like racism, sexuality, adoption, and genocide. Gabriel’s character, Geoff, is in fact quite layered being adopted, gay, biracial, and a warlock! “There’s a lot to Geoff! He’s very outgoing, courageous, loving, and loyal. He wants to do the right thing, even if it does not turn out right. However, he can be a little impulsive [he laughs]…” The character of Geoff may very well be one of the best examples of someone who “just so happens to be gay.” The character is never ostracized by his family or friends for being gay, and it is treated as nothing to note. “Geoff is loved and accepted by his family completely. Him being gay is just not a big deal at all. In fact, the only issue he has with being gay comes from his love interest, a closeted gay guy who is actually on the opposite end struggling with his sexuality. Geoff knows who he is and accepts that, and I love that about him…we need to see more stories like him so we can stop equating gay with tragedy. It’s a beautiful, refreshing narrative.”

gabriel darku

The cast of “October Faction” is highly talented and chalked full of veterans–namely Tamara Taylor, J.C. McKenzie, Stephen McHattie, and Wendy Crewson–each of them have been acting for decades. Gabriel reveals he loved working with and learning from them as well as building a familial bond with his castmates. “We really connected on set and I learned a lot from all of them. I mean how could I not, they’ve had these amazing careers and were all so warm and open. Me and my tv sister, Aurora [Burghart], ended up acting just like siblings with the banter and poking fun at each other. It was so nice, I really can’t wait to get back on that set.” Unfortunately it has been announced that Netflix will not renew the series for a second season. 

gabriel darku

Gabriel is definitely a rising star and truly a talented actor. We are looking forward to seeing him in future projects . Geoff advises other actors “to study the craft and not give up. You’re going to hear a lot of no’s, face a lot of rejection, but you can’t take it personally.”

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