Saints & Sinners’ premiere episode on Sunday pulled in 1.3 million viewers across two airings, making it the highest-rated and most-watched program in Bounce TV’s history, according to the network.
The premiere 9 PM ET telecast of the hourlong drama series on Sunday, March 6 (483,000 Households), and an encore airing at 12 midnight ET/9 PM PT, combined to reach 1.3 million unduplicated viewers, the network says.
Saints & Sinners centers around the pursuit of power, intertwined with greed, deception, corruption and murder – all set against the backdrop of a large southern church. Vanessa Bell Calloway, Christian Keyes, Keith Robinson, Clifton Powell, Gloria Reuben, J.D. Williams, Jasmine Burke, Afemo Omilami and Richard Lawson star.
Article by Lisa Collins-Hayes, Parlé Magazine.
Members of the Cast of Bounce TV’s Saints & Sinners Introduce Readers to the new Breakout Series.
Saints & Sinners is an all new original series on Bounce TV, The show premiered on Sunday, March 6th. The promos look juicy and after talking with several of the cast members, this show has so many twists and turns, it’s going to knock your socks off. The show centers on the Greater Hope Baptist Church, the heartbeat of Cypress, GA, a southern town outside Atlanta. When a violent murder rocks the community, the church that holds the secrets of the entire town is at risk of imploding. The cast is star-studded with names like Vanessa Bell-Calloway, Christian Keyes, Clifton Powell,Jasmine Burke, Gloria Rueben, Keith Robinson, JD Williams, Afemo Omilami and Richard Lawson.
Vanessa (Lady Ella Johnson), Clifton (Rex Fisher), Jasmine (Christie Johnson) and Keith (Miles Calloway) took some time to give me a run down of what readers can expect from Saints & Sinners. Here’s what they had to say:
Article by Thadine Quick, Courageous Woman Magazine.
Vanessa Bell Calloway is a thespian who excels at ACTING, DANCING, and BUSINESS. Her triple threat game is incredible! With a sophisticated, very deliberate film career and theater background following her, it sure is refreshing to see her sustain; especially at a time when women everywhere are striving to carve out their footprints in the sand.
A working actress for over 36 years, including eight NAACP nominations and sold out shows at the Pasadena Playhouse, Mrs. Calloway has risen to the peak of her field through hard work, sacrifice, and dedication. This smart, yet very blessed, breast cancer survivor is usually found in the boardroom negotiating deals with game changing executives, including Bounce TV, who recently picked up her show “Saints & Sinners,” slated for release in Spring 2016.
Article reprinted from The Plain Dealer, March 6, 2016:
Set in a small Georgia town near Atlanta, the new drama ”Saints & Sinners” is a steamy mix of deceit, greed, corruption and murder. Might the setting for this power struggle be City Hall, a powerful local business or maybe a hospital?
Nope. Welcome to the Greater Hope Baptist Church. Premiering tonight on Bounce TV, the network founded in 2011 for black viewers, ”Saints & Sinners” explores the complex world of a church that’s a major player in a small town.
Looming over that world is the formidable figure of ”first lady” Ella Johnson, played by Vanessa Bell Calloway.
”One of the things that most appealed to me about this series is that the women are so strong,” said Bell Calloway, the Toledo native who grew up in Cleveland. ”Not just me, but the mayor, played by Gloria Reuben, and my daughter, played by Jasmine Burke. These are very strong female characters, and Lady Ella is not your typical sit-inthe-church-with-a-new-hatevery- Sunday kind of firstlady.” No, she’s not. When she speaks her mind, you’d better listen.
It’s like Empire in the church! Watch #SaintsandSinners @bouncetv Sunday at 9pm.
bnce.tv/find-us – find your local listing.
Bounce TV — the nation’s first and only broadcast television network designed for African-American (AA) audiences and TV’s fastest-growing AA network — is expanding into hour-long drama with Saints & Sinners, which will center around the pursuit of power, intertwined with deceit, greed, corruption and murder – all set against the backdrop of a large southern church.
by Ramona Harper on June 20, 2015
The Harlem Renaissance was magically rebirthed through Vanessa Bell Calloway’s phenomenal one-woman performance ofLetters from Zora: In Her Own Words at the gala opening for the 6th Annual DC Black Theatre Festival. Zora Neale Hurston, African American folklorist and novelist, surely would have snapped her fingers, sassy hands-on-hips, proudly proclaiming once more, “Baby I’m Here,” as her-story and the literary genius of an incredible life came alive on the beautiful stage of THEARC Theatre.
Vanessa Bell Calloway in ‘Letters From Zora.’ Photo by Chris Roman.
The DC Black Theatre Festival has become one of the most significant cultural celebrations in the Washington DC area. For the sixth year, DCBTF is showcasing some 100 works of local and national playwrights, actors and directors in a 9-day extravaganza. DCBTF’s choice for opening night, Letters from Zora: In Her Own Words, was a fitting tribute to a pioneer who led the way and opened the door to new creative expression in the arts. Zora Neale Hurston stands out as a literary giant and pioneer who deeply influenced American culture through her writings by provoking new conversations about race and what it means to be black in America in a time of social upheaval and cultural change in the early decades of the twentieth century that still resonate today.
Playwright Gabrielle Pina premiered Letters from Zora: In Her Own Words in 2012 to a sold-out crowd at the University of Southern California, where she currently teaches. According to Pina, Letters from Zora is,”an authentic multi-sensory experience of an extraordinary woman who defied social conventions of the day and lived a life of her own creation. The artistic fusion of music, history and literary prose illuminates the resilience of the human spirit as well as Hurston’s philosophy of life and literature in her own words.”
Vanessa Bell Calloway gives a feisty firecracker of a performance as the completely uninhibited Zora Neale Hurston and self-proclaimed “original cougar.” Stage, screen and television actress and dancer Vanessa Bell Calloway recently received an NAACP Theater Award for Best Actress for her passionate performance depicting the life of this courageous African American anthropologist, thrice-married early feminist, political activist and literary luminary who grounded her works in the rich folk lore and culture of the American south where she was born in 1891.
Letters from Zora is a riveting one-woman show and you can’t take your eyes off the spunky Vanessa Bell Calloway for fear you will miss some outrageous Zora snippet or one of her capricious witticisms. The show never misses a beat with Vanessa’s high energy no doubt fueled by the expressive words of Ms. Hurston, Pina’s script, and the fine direction of Anita Dashiell-Sparks.
The lost art of letter-writing is the platform for an evening of creative story-telling at its best as Vanessa Bell Calloway narrates the adventurous life of Zora Neale Hurston using her personal letters, starting with her early childhood in Alabama to her death in 1960. Zora’s preacher father would later move the family to Eatonville, Florida when Zora was very young. And Florida would be the place where she returned at the end of an accomplished yet tragic life in which she contemplated suicide and died destitute. Hurston wrote some 1,000 letters to close friends like Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen, fellow writers and creative collaborators. Full-screen graphics of Zora’s handwritten letters are an effective backdrop that anchor us in the moment and the message.
Zora Neale Hurston. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
Original music from the bluesy jazz era of the Harlem Renaissance by Ron McCurdy adds another delightful sensory dimension to the sights and sounds of an amazing life. Calloway embellishes the sole navy blue dress she wears in the play with a period statement mink cape and coat with that pulled-down black cloche hat which has become a Zora Neale Hurston brand mark. Hanging in the background is a sexy red dress that really says it all about the finger-poppin’, cocktail drinkin’, high life livin’ Zora Neale Hurston.
She loved life and studied it with passionate precision. But she was a woman ahead of her times and eventually was subjected to male chauvinist criticism from noted African-American writers of the era such as Richard Wright and others in the “Talented Tenth.” They took issue with the intrinsic value Zora placed upon the common folkways of her people that didn’t reflect their high-brow intellectual approach to self-respect and equality for blacks in America.
Zora Neale Hurston refused to be compartmentalized. She refused to be a victim of “literary lynching” and she chafed at the notion of positing herself in the “mental pawn shop” that she felt some of her intellectual contemporaries had succumbed to.
Zora Neale Hurston’s complex artistic and political views are superbly conveyed through the energetic motions and expressive emotions projected by the remarkable Vanessa Bell Calloway.
I left the theater feeling that I had gotten to intimately know the real Zora Neale Hurston, as Vanessa brought Zora’s personality to life in an evening of entertaining and profound vignettes, ripe with rich teachable moments.
Ramona Harper (left) speaking to talking to Vanessa Bell Calloway (Right) at the after-party. Photo by Malcolm Lewis Barnes.
In an after show gala reception, I had the opportunity to meet Ms. Calloway and she shared with me that Gabby Pina’s play was a divine gift to her. She said that the words of Zora Neale Hurston are beautiful and that she gets excited saying them. She hoped that the audience would feel the same sense of excitement that she does when they see Letters from Zora: In Her Own Words. I know I did.
Running Time: 90 minutes, with no intermission.
Letters from Zora: In Her Own Words ends its run at 8 PM tonight at THEARC Theatre – 1901 Mississippi Ave. SE, in Washington, DC.
Purchase your tickets to the DC Black Theatre Festival
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