Interview with creators of Covenant, Lace and Partners in Rhyme on ALLBLK by Suzanne 8/17/21
CTAM PRESS TOUR SUMMER 2021
ALLBLK’s Developing and Creating While Black: Covenant, Partners in Rhyme, and Lace
Nikki Love (VP, development and production for ALLBLK)
MC Lyte (Star/Co-Creator, Partners in Rhyme)
Kaye Singleton (Creator, Covenant)
Katrina Y. Nelson (Creator, Lace)
Michelle Ebony Hardy (Creator, Lace)
“Covenant” premieres October 14th. There are no exact premiere dates set yet for “Lace” or “Partners in Rhyme” – they’re premiering “in the fall.”
This was an interesting TCA panel because it wasn’t about just one show. There were a few panels like this, where the panel consisted of a group of people from different shows that they had united under one umbrella topic. The problem with that is that we only get one or two questions, and if they have a lot of different stars that we want to talk to, it makes it difficult to choose. This one, though, was mostly writers and producers. I wasn’t familiar with most of them. I believe MC Lyte was the only one I’d heard of before.
I greeted them all and said, “It’s great to see an all-female panel. That’s wonderful.”
Kaye Singleton agreed with a “Yes.” I asked Nikki Love, “Was there a push from the networks to have more female-centered shows on the network?”
She replied that women are their target audience, “so obviously we want to give them characters that they can look at and see themselves or a sliver of themselves and get some representation for them. So yeah, like I said, it wasn’t necessarily a huge push for it but it was kind of ingrained in what we do, content for our women, yeah, for our subscribers.”
I was surprised she said that women were their target audience because when I looked around on Google, I didn’t see anything about that. As far as I knew, their target audience was African-Americans. I guess I learned something here! I felt a little stupid, though.
I asked MC Lyte about working with Precious Way, who was on “Days of Our Lives” for a while and now plays her niece. I asked her if she saw Precious on Days. She thanked me for the question and said that Precious is also on another show where she plays Brandy’s daughter (that would be “Queens” on FOX). She said, “She’s super talented, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and excited about being in the business so it works out really well.” I pointed out that she seems like the character she plays on her show, “Partners in Rhyme.” She agrees that she is.
MC Lyte was also asked, by another reporter, about the change in rap over the years, since there are more women in it now. She pointed out that hip hop can open the door for artists to go into other fields, even though sometimes “there is a box sometimes that’s put around us” as well as people in the industry that can help you pursue those dreams. She went on to say that it makes sense for women to be rapping their own points of view…”And quite frankly hip hop wouldn’t be the same without the touch of a woman.”
She was also asked how she feels that being an influential rapper has improved her life. She seemed a little flummoxed by that question, but said that “hip hop has been a complete blessing for me through and through.” She thanked her mom for letting her become who she wanted to be, as well as pushing her and supporting her. She thinks that what she achieved is possible for anyone who can work hard. She also said, “But that’s just like all of the women, the creators that are here today. I’m sure that they have been told no at some point in their lives and it didn’t stop them. They continued on with the mission. And so I’m happy to be here amongst all the creators.”
Kaye Singleton produces the drama “Covenant,” which is an anthology show based on bible stories. She was asked how much religion was a part of her life, how she thought of the series, and did she try to shop it to other networks before coming to ALLBLK as well as asked to tell us how the show came about.
Singleton replied that she grew up in the church and since she’s been in Hollywood for 6 or 7 years, has wanted to do something like “Covenant.” She agreed that there was a lack of faith-based programming, and she wanted to make something that spoke to church-goers. She named some religious movies from the past and said that she wanted something that was more modern that younger people would like. She didn’t shop it to other networks. She said she went straight to ALLBLK with the idea. “And thankfully they were really, really receptive to it. And I think Nikki and Brett, that they saw the vision like I saw it. And so when I pitched that show along with the slew of other shows, I was surprised that that was the one — even though that was the one closest to my heart — that they chose it because sometimes it is a little hard trying to figure out how faith-based is going to look and feel in this secular world. But I think the way it’s posed, because it’s not scripture-heavy on the surface, it is really welcoming to all and not polarizing, it’ll appeal to all different kinds of crowds.”
Then Love was asked why she liked it so much. She agreed with Singleton that it was very different from other shows, being faith-based in a modern setting. “So there are a lot of stories that we don’t necessarily hear a lot about in the Bible. So to kind of shine a light on what it would look like today is great and we kind of stayed away from the typical like Noah and the Ark-type of stories. We had Kaye diving into that Bible and plucking out some stories like, ooh, this would be great and it totally applies to today. So it was just something different, something edgy, and told from a different point of view that we really, really gravitated towards.”
Singleton added that they tie in modern dilemmas, such as COVID, infertility and the Capitol insurrection, which is what makes it exciting.
The questions went back to MC Lyte about her show. She was asked about the raps in her show – who writes them and do the raps or the story come first?
She responded that she, Precious and the producers are all writers, and they have two other writers as well. They all write the raps. First they wrote the shows and raps, and then they recorded the songs before they filmed the shows. She added, “we looked at the different episodes and the storylines and said, “Okay, what is going to be most fitting for this area?” And so, we really strategically worked it out and was purposeful with every rhyme.”
She was asked to clarify if “the rhymes are written towards commenting on the episode in some way rather than having the rhymes and then structuring an episode around them?” She agreed with that. She gave an example of two songs that fit into the story but not into the storyline.
Another journalist called MC Lyte, “a hip hop icon and a female influencer in this space who has spent the past several years transitioning into film and TV,” which MC Lyte seemed flattered by. She was asked how the show represents or adds to her legacy.
MC Lyte says that it took her a long time to get to where she is. She feels that other rappers that came about at the same time as she did have already done sitcoms and then moved onto other things, but she’s just starting it. She had been in other sitcoms, but this is the first one where she’s the star. She spoke about those shows, “For Your Love” (1998-2002) and “Half and Half (2004-2006).” She enjoyed having fun on those shows. She felt it was time to do this show now. She wanted to commit to it and to give opportunities to others to be writers, actors, wardrobe and other production people on the show. It brings joy for her to see others “working in their super power…to me, it’s just an extension of being in hip hop.” Her objective is mainly to inspire, so however that works out, she’s happy about it. She likes to try different types of things. “There’s nothing that can stop me if I want to be a photographer one day, and then be an engineer the next, a music supervisor — which I’ve actually done, I spent four years doing not too long ago. For me, it’s just about really creating opportunities for other people. And in that legacy, my thing is to give. So, whatever I’m giving, I get it, then I give it back. So, you know, hip hop sisters, we give away scholarships to young people attending HBCUs. Our partnership is with Dillard University right now. And so I’m just earning money to put kids through school, honestly, part of the legacy.”
The panel was asked what they specifically bring to TV, as black women, that hasn’t been seen before. Love insisted that “Lace” creators Michelle Ebony Hardy and Katrina Y. Nelson talk about their shows first.
Nelson explained that they started their project in 2012, when there weren’t many black women in lead drama roles. Their lead is an attorney, and all of the cast is very diverse and beautiful. They wanted to see black women that weren’t portrayed as drug dealers or crackheads. They wanted to see women that were like them, such as businesswomen…”that as women, we get that moniker that we’re strong, but there are vulnerabilities to us, you know?”
Hardy echoed what she said, saying that viewers will get the chance “to see all the many different layers and personalities and experiences. And again, just being powerful, being intelligent, being beautiful, but also having vulnerabilities, being relatable.”
The last reporter said that he loves “rich and powerful soapy legal stuff” himself, but he wondered if people will want to see that now, since the general public doesn’t love the rich and powerful so much now. He asked if they were concerned that the viewers wouldn’t want to see the rich people “get away with bad stuff anymore.”
Hardy informed him that their character Lace has a lot of enemies, so there are many that won’t want to see her get away with anything. She concluded, “This will be an exciting series. You’ll see.”
Nelson chimed in that she’s a third generation soap opera viewer. She loves the soaps. “Right now, my mom and them, they’re here on vacation. But she’s got to watch her soaps every single day, right? It’s time. I don’t care if she’s on the East Coast or on the West Coast,” she chuckled. She pointed out that Lace may be rich and powerful, but she can also “get down and dirty. And so that’s one of the things that we’re talking about, is that there’s not just one way to be a woman. There’s not just one way to be Black. There’s not just one way for people. Like, you know, she can go in any world, whether it’s the rich and powerful elite, or she can go down in the gutter, into the dungeon. So, just keep watching and you’ll be able to see the diversity with all of our cast in the show.”
ALLBLK’s Developing and Creating While Black: Covenant, Partners in Rhyme, And Lace
Premiere Date: Fall 2021
ALLBLK’s original programming slate is full of bold, unique and imaginative storytelling – from the thought-provoking and contemporary portrayal of classic biblical tales in the new anthology, Covenant, to the trials of an up-and-coming female high school rapper and social media sensation in the new sitcom, Partners in Rhyme, to a prolific Los Angeles attorney who often blurs the lines between right and wrong to protect her rich and powerful clientele in the new legal drama, Lace. The ALLBLK panel of talent and creatives discuss their hard-fought journeys to create high-quality scripted dramas featuring predominately Black cast and crew in Hollywood.
Kaye Singleton – Kaye Singleton is a full-time writer and actress born and raised in Central Florida. As an actress Dumplin with Jennifer Aniston, Claws, American Soul, Tales, and more. As a writer, to date she has won 3 screenwriting awards including Best Comedy Script (Archive Entertainment Screenplay Competition – Trap Queen), Best Comedy Teleplay (Content Creators of Atlanta Awards – The Check List), and Best Web Series (Content Creators of Atlanta Awards – Trap Queen). Kaye’s first foray as a writer/producer resulted in her short film, The Check List, which was an official selection and nominated in seven categories for 2019’s Black Women Film Network Short Film Festival, and the 2019 Bronze Lens Film Festival.
Katrina Y Nelson – Katrina Y. Nelson is a multitalented writer, director, comedian and award-winning producer. Nelson produced the web series The Enemy: The N in Me, Life Coach Chronicles (which won the Award of Merit at the Indie Fest), and Breaking Point (winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award – Best Ensemble Cast: Drama at the LA Web Fest), both in 2012. Her short and feature length film producing credits include: Always Remember, A Killer Surprise, Showrunner, and The Wake (which she wrote, produced and directed) Misogynist (winner of the Best Narrative Feature at the Los Angeles International Underground Film Festival in 2013), Past Impulse (which won the Best Dramatic Short Film Trinity International Film Festival in 2014), and Still (winner of the Audience Award – Best Film-at the Los Angeles International Underground Film Festival in 2017).
Michelle Ebony Hardy – Writer-Director-Producer, Michelle Ebony Hardy, is the creator of her most recent project, Lace. Hardy’s other credits include documentary short Game Changers: An Exclusive Look at Inclusion in Hollywood and short film Chump City.
Nikki Love – Nikki Love is a skilled producer and line producer specializing in the physical production of filmmaking from development to postproduction. She has produced festival and award-winning feature films, short films, web series and music videos. She creates tight budgets and has great crew and equipment at her disposal. Her specialty is making quality projects at reasonable costs. Putting her skills to use, she most recently signed on as VP of Development & Production for ALLBLK, the number one streaming service for black film & television. As the landscape continues to change for filmmakers, she continues to seek to push the envelope in producing innovative and creative content!
MC LYTE – a legend in the world of music and entertainment – is a pioneering artist and a formidable actress of television and film. Her most recent acting credits include a series regular on last year’s New York Undercover pilot (a reboot of the original Dick Wolf series), and she has recurred on S.W.A.T. (CBS), Power (Starz), and Queen of the South (USA). Lyte’s film roles include acclaimed Sundance Winner Patti Cakes, the Universal hit Girls Trip; Bad Hair, from Director Justin Simien; and the upcoming features Loved To Death, and Sylvie, with Tessa Thompson and Eva Longoria. Her newest venture has her taking on the role of show Creator & Executive Producer alongside Lynn Richardson & Bentley Evans for ALLBLK TV’s sitcom, “Partners In Rhyme.” Recently, MC Lyte made her directorial debut with a feature short film, Break Up In Love. MC LYTE is also an iconic Rapper and DJ. Her groundbreaking music career spans 30 years – this Hip Hop LEGEND was the first female rapper ever to be nominated for a Grammy Award, the first rap artist to perform at Carnegie Hall, and the first female artist to earn a gold single. A true leader in the music industry, MC LYTE has also performed at the Kennedy Center Honors and the White House for President Barack Obama. In addition to a busy on-screen career, MC Lyte has several television and film projects — both scripted and unscripted — in various stages of development. She serves as the CEO of Sunni Gyrl, Inc., a full-service entertainment management and production firm that provides executive leadership and customized strategies in the areas of celebrity/artist support, development and management; brand development and management; wealth maintenance; community affairs and outreach; and production / creative services. Her voice work is also well known and admired, representing dozens of Fortune 500 companies as well as being the voice of the BET Awards, Emmys, Grammys, Comcast, NBA, and the NAACP Image Awards. As an author, motivational speaker, and philanthropist, MC LYTE has written books and speaks globally on many inspiring topics from her vast knowledge of the entertainment and hip-hop industries, to entrepreneurialism and economic empowerment. Her charity, “Hip Hop Sisters Foundation,” has presented over $1,000,000 in scholarships.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda