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Star Costume Designer Paul Tazewell Speaks at Black Design Collective’s “Harriet” Screening

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It was the last 2019 event for Black Design Collective, a Los Angeles headquartered non-profit that supports African American designers and mentors student creatives.

BDC treated its members and friends to a Dec. 17 screening of “Harriet” at Regal LA Live in downtown Los Angeles. The Focus Features film tells the story of Harriet Tubman, abolitionist and escaped slave who rescued 70 enslaved people before the American Civil War.

After the screening, BDC co-founders Kevan Hall and TJ Walker introduced a panel, which told the inside story of the making of the film. Speaking were film producer Debra Martin Chase, Vanessa Bell Calloway—the actress who played Harriet Tubman’s mother, and Paul Tazewell, the film’s costume designer. The panel talked about the long road bringing the film to the screen, and, of course, how it was costumed by Tazewell. He designed costumes for the Broadway production of “Hamilton,” as well as the upcoming Steven Spielberg remake of “West Side Story.”


A card depicting Cynthia Erivo in a costume for Harriet

The “Harriet” script remained unproduced for a number of years, Martin Chase said, because Hollywood wasn’t ready for a unique historical epic about an enslaved woman. Films with women and black people as heroic leads, such as “Wonder Woman,” “Black Panther” and “Hidden Figures,” had to be proven box office successes before anyone would take a gamble on them, she said.

Putting together the film’s costume designs took a bit of hustle, according to the panel. When “Harriet” was being produced, it had to compete for 19th-century vintage garments with a couple of other films which were being produced during the same time. One of them was the highly anticipated remake of “Little Women” by Academy Award nominee Greta Gerwig.

But the “Harriet” designer pulled off a few sartorial coups. Tazewell sourced vintage pieces such as an 1830s gown that Janelle Monae wore in “Harriet.”

The look of the film also was inspired by images of slaves depicted in 19th-century daguerreotypes. The costumes also told the story of Tubman’s journey of an enslaved person who escaped to Philadelphia and became an activist and someone who controlled her own destiny, Tazewell said.

“We see how clothing deteriorated off of her body,” he said of scenes where Harriet escapes through wilderness to find freedom. “Then she goes to Philadelphia and recreates herself as a woman.”

Tazewell said that he wanted to capture a specific spirit with his costume design for the film.

“It was about clothes in movement, and how it underscores the emotional truth the story was telling,” Tazewell said.


Shameless Actors Sweetheart: Vanessa Bell Calloway Speaks Out Against Ageism In Hollywood

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Vanessa Bell Calloway started her own campaign called How To Rock Your Age. She spoke with Madame Noire, stating, “the reason I am embracing this is because women, we are taught that when we age it’s negative. Men get kudos for getting gray hair and getting older and more distinguished. They get ‘distinguished’ and we just get “old.”


10 Things You Didn’t Know about Vanessa Bell Calloway

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Although Vanessa Bell Calloway began her career as a dancer, she’s since become best known for her roles in the likes of What’s Love Got to Do with It, Crimson Tide, Shameless, and Saints & Sinners…. not to mention the 1998 classic comedy, Coming to America. Fans of the film are set for a treat with the upcoming release of Coming to America 2, which will see both Eddie Murphy and Bell Calloway back in business as Prince Akeem and Princess Imani Izzi. With the film not scheduled for release until Dec. 18, 2020, we’ve got a while to go yet- keep your appetite sated in the meantime with the ten little facts.

  1. Her Net Worth
    An actress with over 100 acting credits to her name is unlikely to be short on cash, something that’s certainly true in Bell Calloway’s case. According to the latest estimates over at Celebrity Net Worth, the actress has managed to accrue the kind of wealth most of us can only dream of… or $600 thousand, if we’re going to put an exact figure on it.
  2. She made her TV debut on All My Children
    After beginning her career on stage, Bell Calloway made the transition to TV in 1985 with her performance as Yvonne Caldwell on the daytime soap, All My Children. From there, she made numerous cameo appearances on prime-time shows such as The Colbys, Falcon Crest, 227, China Beach, A Different World, and L.A. Law. In 1992, she won the part of a series regular on Rhythm & Blues, a show that paved the way to further success in the likes of Under One Roof (1995), Shameless (2011-2016), and, most latterly, Saints & Sinners (2016-).
  3. She first appeared on film in 1987
    Two years after making her small screen debut on All My Children, Bell Calloway landed her first big-screen role as an uncredited “woman” in the police detective film, Number One with a Bullet. While the part may have been minor, it opened the door to bigger success, with roles in the likes of Coming to America, What’s Love Got to Do with It, The Inkwell, and Crimson Tide following quickly on its heels.
  4. She’s an 8-time NAACP Image Award nominee
    Her cabinet may not be groaning with trophies just yet, but Bell Calloway’s prolific output over the last 30 years hasn’t gone unnoticed by critics and award panels. As a testament to her talents, the actress can boast eight NAACP Image Award nominations to her name: the first (an NAACP Image Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture) came in 1993 for her performance as Jackie in What’s Love Got To Do With It; the second, an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series, came in 1996 for her portrayal of Maggie Langston in Under One Roof. Other performances to receive an award nod include Miss Williams in America’s Dream (1996), Rosalee Clark in Orleans (1997), Johnnie Mae Matthews in The Temptations (1998), Mrs. Michelle Ronning in Boston Public (2001), Gwen Hendrix in The District (2003-2004), and Gail Strummer in Hawthorne (2010-2011).
  5. She’s a breast cancer survivor
    In 2009, Bell Calloway was diagnosed with ductal carcinoma, an early stage of breast cancer. After undergoing two lumpectomies and finally, a mastectomy, she was diagnosed cancer-free. In 2016, she shared her experience, and the insights she’d taken from it, with Ebony magazine. “Anytime you go through anything so emotional, you learn a lot. I’m very grateful and blessed. I love my birthdays even more. I’m 58 now. Some people stress about becoming older, but who cares about your age? You can’t turn 80 without turning 60,” she shared. “It’s nice to walk around without skepticism. I wake up every day worry-free. I forget I even had cancer sometimes because I’m so entrenched in the goodness of life. It’s a gift.”
  6. She loves getting older
    Some actors and actresses bemoan every passing year, fearing the work will dry up at the first sign of grey hair. Not so Bell Calloway, who’s so happy with the rolling of the decades, she’s invited women to celebrate getting older with her as part of her This is My Sexy Sixty campaign. The campaign, which Bell launched to mark her own 60th year, invites women to ‘look their best, feel their best, but most of all… be their best!’… a piece of wisdom she herself learned in her 20s. “I learned that in my twenties to really just focus inward and let the universe and God speak to me,” she’s said. “That has really helped me in a lot of ways as I grew older. Also, not to be afraid of being assertive at that age. Young women try to be so pleasing and we’re always apologizing. Although I was very strong and confident in my twenties, I wish I could have been even more so. The older you get, the less you care.”
  7. She’s using her message to help others
    As a breast cancer survivor herself, Bell Calloway is only too aware of the importance of regular checkups and screenings, something she promotes with a passion in her role as a spokesperson for Susan G. Komen’s Know Your Girls Campaign. “We know the girls in our lives. We know our moms, our daughters, our sisters, our friends, our sorrows. We should know the girls we carry around every day,” the actress told Rolling Out. “Do you have a group of girlfriends that call each other up and ask, ‘Did you get your mammogram?’ As women, we need those who will hold us accountable for our health.”
  8. She started out as a dancer
    Before she became an actress, Bell Calloway was a dancer, studying with the likes of Alvin Ailey, George Faison, and Otis Sallid, and finally getting her start on the stage of Michael Bennett’s original Broadway production of Dreamgirls.
  9. She’s a control freak
    Bell Calloway has always been very careful about how she presents herself in the media, preferring to keep a strict reign on how her image, and her family’s image, is presented. “I’m very meticulous about my image, about my family’s image, and I have to have total control of photos that go out of me, my children, my family, anything that’s said,” she’s told Ebony. “I always tell interviewers to please feel free to contact me to clarify anything because that has happened to me when people are rushing to write articles and they kind of misconstrue what I said, and they write it the way they think it is—and that ticks me off. You have to control things, especially with social media, because once it’s out there, it’s out there. And that becomes the fact.
  10. She’s got two kids
    In 1988, Bell Calloway married anesthesiologist Dr. Anthony Calloway. The couple are still happily married, and share two daughters, Alexandra and Ashley (who you may remember from her stint on the Bet series Baldwin Hills between 2007-2009).


Vanessa Bell Calloway: Know Your Girls [Video]

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Vanessa Bell Calloway: Know Your Girls [Video]

Aired 10-7-2018 on BET

Vanessa Bell Calloway, Tina Knowles, Denise Boutte and Nichelle Turner talk about the importance of checking out your breast and body.

New Orleans Data News: A Phenomenal Woman

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New Orleans Data News: A Phenomenal Woman

The title of one of the signature poems of the late great Maya Angelou is entitled “Phenomenal Woman.” At this year’s, Jazz Fest while sitting backstage waiting for the legendary Stevie Wonder to hit the stage, Data News Weekly had the opportunity to speak with Actress Vanessa Bell Calloway, a woman who is every bit of phenomenal. She is timelessly beautiful, intelligent, graceful and talented, as she is looking casually chic on this warm day in the month May. She is alluring and exudes an elegant yet down to earth aura. Calloway has had a career spanning several decades on the stage, silver screen and television. She’s earned eight NAACP Image Award nominations; winning the “NAACP Theater Award for Best Actress” for her critically acclaimed role as Zora Neale Hurston in “Letters From Zora.”

My Love Affair with America’s Most Interesting City

Speaking enthusiastically, she says, her connection to the Crescent City runs deep, “I love New Orleans; I have been coming here for years. My husband Dr. Anthony Calloway, both of his parents are from New Orleans and his best friend is here. We’re also very good friends with Marc Morial who served two-terms as mayor and we attended both of his inaugurals. Continuing speaking of the City’s unique character and flavor she says, “New Orleans is my favorite City in the U.S., when I am here I feel like I am on an island, it is a City that is so special and so different from the rest of the country.”

On Being Black and Successful in the Entertainment Industry

Over the years, she’s played countless roles and is one of the most in demand character actresses in the business. Vanessa is best known for her roles in the box office smashes “Coming to America,” “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, “Biker Boyz “, “Love Don’t Cost A Thing”, “Daylight,” “The Inkwell”, “Crimson Tide”, “The Brothers”, “Cheaper By The Dozen” and she’s also voiced the lead female role in the animated feature “Bebe’s Kids”. Calloway is currently starring in Bounce TV’s new hit one-hour drama “Saints & Sinners” as the matriarch Lady Ella Johnson. Talking about her recent projects she says, “Right now I am starring in ‘Saints & Sinners’ on Bounce TV I am Lady Ella, the lead character and our second season we’ve just completed and waiting to do our third. I am always staying busy; I am directing now as well, I directed an episode of ‘Saints and Sinners,’ I also have my own content on the web, ‘In the Company of Friends’ and ‘Cooking and Hooking Up’ which are my own projects that I conceived, directed and created.”

In the entertainment industry where many are hailed as the next big thing today only then to hover into obscurity; Calloway, since her early television appearance in 1985 as Yvonne Caldwell on the ABC soap opera ‘All My Children’ has been a mainstay in the industry playing many memorable roles. A feat not accomplished by many especially someone of color. Speaking of her secret to longevity she says, “The secret to having longevity is to keep working and staying prevalent, stay positive and stay in the moment. It’s like you just must keep working, like anything else we know about life you can’t rest on your past laurels. You must keep moving and keep creating and just being present. I have a lot of people I have to thank for keeping me in the loop, but I also have to say it is my will and determination and belief in myself for staying relevant and being positive and keeping it moving and not being afraid of taking chances; in addition to growing and understanding all aspects of the industry.”

Words that are Key to Living a Great Life

While being successful in business, she’s been successful in other aspects of her life with the role of mother and wife being the one she takes the most pride in. Vanessa has two beautiful adult daughters, Ashley and Alexandra and she has been married to her loving husband Anesthesiologist, Dr. Anthony Calloway for 28 years. She says this is what matters most to her in life, “My family is what gives me meaning and purpose. I love them; there’s nothing I would trade for my family. Any professional accomplishments or awards substitutes for the love, the support and the health of my family and they are first and foremost to me and the rest will work itself out.” On this ending note before Stevie Wonder hits the stage she’s given me these words that are the keys to a great life. Vanessa Bell Calloway, through her example in the show business and living a well-rounded life is the true definition of a phenomenal woman.

Article source:

TMZ interviews Vanessa Bell Calloway about Eddie Murphy’s “Coming to America” Sequel tweet!

Posted by on 6:41 am in Press, Vanessa's Blog | 0 comments

The tweet and Eddie’s whole account have since been deleted. That’s most likely because we’re told there was a plan to post something like this, but it wasn’t supposed to happen yet. As we said, Eddie’s still writing.

The premature release caught fans and Princess Imani by surprise. Vanessa, who’s barely aged in the nearly 30 years since the original film, told us she’s ready to go.

So are fans, so someone just yell “Action!” already.

Original source: 29 years after ‘Coming to America’, actress Vanessa Bell is the sexiest woman alive at 60

Posted by on 6:38 am in Press, Vanessa's Blog | 0 comments 29 years after ‘Coming to America’, actress Vanessa Bell is the sexiest woman alive at 60

Article source:

Black truly don’t crack! It’s 2017 and on the 20th of this month of March, veteran actress Vanessa Bell Calloway will be turning 60. Can you believe it, 60?! And she is still one of the sexiest women alive! If you take a look at the sexy Coming To America star, it doesn’t look like she’s aged a bit! And to celebrate her upcoming milestone, she recently launched her This is My Sexy Sixty campaign, which empowers women to embrace their beauty at all ages. Since March is also
Women’s History Month, you can say the campaign is well-timed, as Calloway is inviting women to ‘look their best, feel their best, but most of all … be their best!’

Speaking to Rollingout on the advice she would’ve given to her 20-year-old self, Vanessa had this to say: ‘Well, a piece of advice I’m glad I did give myself was to listen to that voice within. I learned that at around that age. If you listen to that inner voice saying, ‘If it looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, then it’s a duck’ that inner-voice never leads you wrong.

‘I learned that in my twenties to really just focus inward and let the universe and God speak to me. That has really helped me in a lot of ways as I grew older. Also, not to be afraid of being assertive at that age. Young women try to be so pleasing and we’re always apologizing. Although I was very strong and confident in my twenties, I wish I could have been even more so. The older you get, the less you care.’

Read full article and view photos

Vanessa Bell Calloway Returns on Bounce TV’s ‘Saints and Sinners’ (Huffington Post)

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Reprinted from the Huffington Post, 3/4/2017

There has been a recent pop up of shows based on what happens in and out of the church but truthfully we all know that Bounce TV broke the mold last year with the debut of its astronomical highly rated original drama, Saints and Sinners that created television’s sudden interest in congregation based television programs. After what seemed like a longer wait then what Job had to endure when God tested his faith, the original church based drama has returned! Sure someone may argue that there was that show Amen back in the day that everyone loved with the Jefferson’s Sherman Hemsley—- but nothing prepared audiences for the twists and turns of Saints and Sinners which is unpredictable and scripted intelligently. The Ty Scott created drama stars eight-time NAACP Image Award nominee and veteran Actress, Vanessa Bell Calloway. It also features Clifton Powell, Christian Keyes, J.D. Williams, Jasmine Burke, Keith Robinson and Karlie Redd.

Saints and Sinners returns to television tomorrow on Sunday, March 5th at 9pm ET. This season, death’s shadow continues to loom over the town’s epicenter, Greater Hope Baptist Church as newly elected Mayor Ella Johnson (Vanessa Bell Calloway) and the remaining power players in Cypress tackle greed, corruption, deceit and scandal among their friends and family. As Cypress police hunt for their newest murder.

Saints and Sinners presented Calloway with another role filled with depth and complexity. Lady Ella has to deal with pressure, perception, religion, sexuality and private struggles. Over the years, Calloway has not just survived in Hollywood but she has thrived. From her roles in Coming to America, Shameless, What’s Love Got to Do With It and Grey’s Anatomy just to name a few, the gorgeous and physically fit Actress has always worked and maintained great roles in television, film and theater. We talked to her about Lady Ella, politics, religion and issues on the show and in our country.

Read the entire interview here:

‘Survivor’s Remorse’: Isaiah Washington & Vanessa Bell Calloway Set To Recur; Neal McDonough To Guest Star On Season 4

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‘Survivor’s Remorse’: Isaiah Washington & Vanessa Bell Calloway Set To Recur; Neal McDonough To Guest Star On Season 4

Grey’s Anatomy alum Isaiah Washington and Saints & Sinners’ Vanessa Bell Calloway are set for recurring roles on Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse, executive produced by LeBron James and Mike O’Malley (Glee, Yes, Dear). In addition, Neal McDonough (Arrow, Justified) is set for a guest role on the upcoming fourth season.

Survivor’s Remorse follows the life of Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher), a hard-working, young basketball star who is thrust into the limelight after signing a huge contract with a pro basketball team in Atlanta.

Washington will play Rodney Barker, the estranged and incarcerated father of Cam (Usher) who is on a journey of forgiveness and redemption as it relates to the sins of his past. Calloway will play Missy Vaughn’s (Teyonah Parris) mother, Camille Jordan, a business executive and DC civil rights activist who wants more for her daughter. McDonough is Brian Powers, a Bostonian business man from Cam’s (Usher) old neighborhood.

Survivor’s Remorse is executive produced by Mike O’Malley, Tom Werner, LeBron James and Maverick Carter for SpringHill Entertainment, Paul Wachter, Victor Levin, Hilton Smith and Ali LeRoi. Season 4 is set to premiere this summer.

In addition to her lead role as Lady Ella Johnson in Saints & Sinners, Calloway’s other credits include Shameless and feature Southside With You. She’s repped by Zero Gravity Management.

Washington, best known for his role as Dr. Preston Burke on long-running series Grey’s Anatomy, can currently be seen as Thelonious Jaha on the CW’s The 100. He’s repped by Amy Weiss at Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

McDonough’s credits include Arrow, Justified, Band of Brothers and Rogue. He’s repped by Paradigm Agency, Luber Roklin Entertainment, and Bloom Hergott Diemer.