The Resurgence is clearly trying to take over with all of this Black brilliance they’re throwing our way. And I’m just over here in my little corner, on my laptop, sipping my Mug of Tea that really has coffee in it because I don’t drink tea, ready, waiting – impatiently – for the tipping point. Because it’s long overdue.
We’ve profiled three actors this week, all of whom gave three vastly different variations of the same definition of The Resurgence and the resurgence. I also asked Lena Waithe, who seems to be at the epicenter of this conglomerate – intended or not, for her definition. She’s the common denominator in this equation, the connector, which is one of the main reasons you should get to know her and her work. Make the connection. Get inspired. It’s good for you.
After almost a week in Los Angeles attending the Dear White People film fest premiere, interviewing, shooting, and covering a couple of WNBA games it was time to head back to our respective locations across the country. It wasn’t until I finally got home Monday morning around 3 that I started to feel the consequences of being a big ideas person. There was such relief by the time we finished our work with Sola Bamis (Mad Men) on Saturday that I hadn’t fully realized we weren’t even close to the finish line for what we’d long since dubbed, “#TheTWENTIESProject.”
It was in L.A. that I originally posed the question to the rest of the staff: “Why y’all let me do this?,” to which everyone replied with some mumbling variation of, “it was a good idea, you got this (also pretty sure I heard ‘overachieving ass’ mumbled at some point, but we’ll table that for the next staff meeting).” “That’s not the point!!” I shouted back in half-jest.
As the week went on and we started pushing out content, I’d ask that same question of our staff at least once a day. We started getting questions – lots of questions and comments about all things related to #TheTWENTIESProject and The Resurgence. We were sharing and linking and tagging and responding on multiple platforms. At one point, after we published the intro, Tiff, our social media manager, and I both put our phones on silent and then down – me sprawled out across my bed, her in the swivel chair at my desk.
Another surge of the same came after we published the first of the three profiles and again after the second. Again we shared and linked and tagged and responded – on multiple platforms. It was then that I got another idea: a master post. Any avid Tumblr user will tell you of the divine goodness of the master post. So here it is. Everything you might need or want to know, can possibly find on the internet related to not only Twenties, but also Ashley Blaine Featherson, Nia Jervier, Courtney Sauls and Lena Waithe. OK Not everything on Lena Waithe. That’s a whole other master post. Seriously (Part 1, Part two coming soon).
For now, here’s your Twenties Playbook & Database. Answers and responses to questions and comments we’ve gotten since starting #TheTWENTIESProject and all of the links and media you need to keep your Twenties fan status right where you want it.
WHAT IS TWENTIES?
Twenties is a series created and written by writer, producer Lena Waithe (Dear White People, Bones, Bros Before Hos) about life in your twenties and the simple fact that no one has it together or has everything figured out in their twenties. It’s a sophomoric period in your life when you’ve learned and experienced just enough to be detrimental to yourself if you aren’t careful. You know that stage in life when you know too much for your own good and not enough at the same time.
Waithe and her crew filmed a pilot presentation, directed by Justin Simien (Dear White People), instead of simply shopping the pilot’s script around hoping someone would bite. “My crew likes to think outside the box,” said Waithe. “That’s why we decided to do a pilot presentation, put it online and see if there was an audience for a show like TWENTIES and pretty soon we started to see there was. And lucky for us so did a cable network.”
With the backing and support of Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit, Waithe will be shooting the full pilot for Twenties with BET this fall.
WHO’S IN TWENTIES?
So glad you asked. The complete cast includes: Ashley Blaine Featherson, Nia Jervier, Courtney Sauls, Brandon Bell (Switched at Birth, Dear White People), Marque Richardson (True Blood, Dear White People), and Lenna Klingamon
A 26-year-old DMV native thriving in Los Angeles, Ashley Blaine Featherson is the co-creator and co-star of Black & Sexy TV’s Hello Cupid. The Queen of Selfies is an alum of Howard University’s Musical Theater program, Featherson began her professional career at age 14. Featherson plays Marie in the pilot presentation of Twenties.
She’s silly and girly. She’s hilarious and a master shade thrower. She laughs a lot and talks even more – not too much – she listens even better than she speaks, intently as though she wants every bit of knowledge you have to offer. She knows who she is and who she wants to be, where she wants to go and what she wants to do.
Featherson has lofty dreams, huge hopes and major goals. Chief among them is serving as an inspiration to others. Especially other brown girls, giving them something none of us had enough of growing up: motivation and encouragement, representation, visibility – the opportunity to see themselves in someone they can admire and look up to.
As far as we can tell Ashley Blaine Featherson is someone everyone can admire. Mostly, because she reflects your own awesomeness back onto you. She loves herself, owns her flaws, knows her strengths and is one hell of an actress.
Featherson in Twenties: The three ladies of Twenties, despite having so much in common, are very different. Featherson met Jervier just four months before she auditioned for the role of Marie in the pilot presentation of Waithe’s Twenties. Both met actress Courtney Sauls, who plays the role of Hattie, during the audition process. All three became fast friends. Despite being friends with the writer and director, Featherson still had to work for the role. She earned the role of Marie after auditioning and then doing a callback read and chemistry test of sorts with Sauls.
Featherson in Hello Cupid: She and writer, producer Lena Waithe, created a witty, refreshing and honest gem, that ended up being a large contributing factor to Featherson’s own notoriety.
Between Waithe’s comedic genius and Featherson’s comedic timing and improv skills, it really shouldn’t be a surprise that fans are constantly waiting for and wanting more. About two episodes in that included our own team as well.
Hello Cupid was derived from Featherson’s childhood experiences of growing up with her best friend. The inseparable duo were often seen as “the light-skinned friend” and “the dark-skinned friend,” leaving her wondering what that meant for them and their interactions with people. As fate would have it Featherson uses her medium to explore these issues, prompting her and Waithe to make sure they address themes that affect the Black community. From colorism to hair texture, lifestyle habits and more, the series ignites light bulbs in the minds of viewers using wit and humor, giving them the subtle push needed to start conversations. The cast also explores the definition of Blackness, eliminating tropes traditionally assigned to Black women on television. READ MORE
Featherson’s ThatsSoAsh.com: Featherson is forever on the go it seems. Still, between auditions, table reads, filming and red carpet and other industry events, Featherson finds just enough time to share her adventures and connect with fans via Instagram. Proclaimed the Queen of Selfies by her friends, her feed is filled with gems from the latest fashion trends to beauty products and must-try restaurants in L.A.
The growing audience sparked an influx of questions – from hairstyles and discounts on the latest products, Featherson found herself sharing the hidden gems with her dedicated fans on her feed. It wasn’t until a few friends pushed her to put the content in one place that she decided to try blogging.
ThatsSoAsh.com launched in June, giving fans and glamour girls everywhere the tips they needed to be their best selves. You’ll find deals and steals, fresh fashion, foodie favorites and more directly from Ashley Blaine Featherson herself. A testament to her ever-changing aesthetic, Featherson showcases her ability to use products that allow her to transition to different looks.
Featherson in Dear White People: She holds down a role in Justin Simien’s Dear White People, as a side-eye throwing, straight-shooting member of Sam’s (Tessa Thompson) crew. She slays. She nails the role. Enough to make you want her character to be your friend, or at least wish she was your friend during your time in college. If the October 17th premiere of Dear White People is too far away, check out her guest appearance in the season five episode of Glee, where she plays an old friend and backup singer of Amber Riley’s Mercedes Jones.
Ashley Blaine Featherson on The Resurgence: “Reviving or tending to rise again, a growth or increase that occurs after a period without growth or increase.” The resurgence is a tight knit & like-minded group of creatives who are rising up together while breathing new life into all areas of entertainment and making a positive social impact. We are actors, writers, directors, producers, musicians, dancers, content creators, executives, etc. We are bringing excitement, honesty and innovation back to the industry we love so much. We aren’t predicable. We are blazing a new trail and are fully committed to welcoming and inspiring those who want to make and be affiliated with quality content. Whatever you felt you were missing, we’re bringing it back!
Born and raised in Brooklyn, the Caribbean actress has been acting and performing since she was nine years old. She would eventually go on to study her craft at The New School’s American Music and Dramatic Academy. A self-described “musical theater geek,” Jervier attended La Guardia High School in New York – famous for the movie Fame and plays Nia in the pilot presentation of Twenties.
Jervier in Twenties & Dear White People: It was her work in Twenties that secured her part in the highly anticipated film, along co-stars Ashley Blaine Featherson and Courtney Sauls. After being unable to find the extra talent that was right for the film, locally in Minneapolis, one of the casting directors suggested Simien and Waithe call “those girls from Twenties because they were amazing.” She got the call and packed her bags for an extended stay in Minnesota.
That experience wouldn’t be her first working with Simien and Waithe. This phenomenally effective duo is the same duo responsible for the Twenties pilot presentation. Directed by Simien, Nia plays a character of the same name. Even though the character is based on her and in turn written for her since she is an actress, the name being the same as hers is a coincidence. She recalls the character having a different name originally and being a part of the table read when other ideas for the name change were offered among the group, “Nia” was one of them. It stuck, which she took as a sign from the universe.
Jervier in Bros Before Hos: She is featured in the upcoming pilot presentation of the Benjamin Corey Jones-created, Anthony Hemingway-directed, Lena Waithe-produced Bros Before Hos, a series focused on the lives of three brothers looking for love in Los Angeles. She plays Dana, the wife of one of the brothers, a role she describes as “Olivia Pope meets Lena Horne.”
Upcoming: Lady Like, as short film by Tiffany Johnson
Nia Jervier on The Resurgence: Rebirth of creativity! A mash up of brilliant art, and artists who want nothing more than to create projects that genuinely touch the soul. Viewers are starving for truth. This change fills a space that has been hollow for too long. The “resurgence” is a gift to audiences of an experience where they can be moved, challenged and engaged. They will exit theaters feeling and thinking with a depth like never before. It makes hearts beat something new, expands minds and encourages intelligent colorful conversation. It’s the incubator that will hatch new writers, directors, producers, and actors that aspire to inspire. Lives will be changed!
Courtney Sauls, a Houston native, L.A. based actor who’s been performing since she was young. She’s obsessed with Billie Holiday and Janet Jackson, passionate about yoga, and may occasionally have a glass of wine in the shower. Sauls plays Hattie in the pilot presention of Twenties and serves face for days in the film, Dear White People.
Sauls in Twenties: From her gangster-jeopardizing obsession with a new Taylor Swift song, to admitting she prefers The Wizard of Oz over the more colorful The Wiz and especially her disclaimer about her new growth prompting the use of “Gabby Douglas” as a verb, Sauls’ Hattie is hilarious. After reading the full script for the pilot I know it’s the delivery just as much as it is the writing. Every time I watch part four I laugh out loud at Hattie’s review of The Voice, particularly the line where she states she was “whelmed…but not overly.” When I read this line in the script I smiled. It didn’t have the same effect as it does rolling off Sauls’ lips. Other lines in the script do but this was confirmation that there is something about the way Sauls brings Hattie to life that resonates and translates so well.
In Sauls’ portrayal I see my friends and me, even though our stories aren’t the same. I see a demographic of smart brown girls that have never been accurately or wholly represented on screen before: quirky and “always the odd man out,” big dreams, lofty goals, tenacity toeing the line of stubbornness, confident and concurrently vulnerable, and perhaps most noticeably, unapologetic. READ MORE
Sauls in Dear White People: She moved to Minnesota for two months during the filming of Dear White People and assumed the role of a character in main character, Sam’s crew known simply in the credits as “Wild.” It was her performance in this role, small but not minor, that had our team talking for hours after the credits stopped rolling, about Courtney Sauls and the face she so flawlessly and (what seemed) effortlessly served.
Wild doesn’t have any lines in the film and still Courtney Sauls communicates the footnotes, subtext and backstory of every scene she is in. Anyone who knows anything at all about acting knows that acting without lines is the bigger challenge and being able to execute such a task as aptly and faultlessly as Sauls did is the stuff legends are made of. READ MORE
You may also remember Courtney Sauls from the original concept trailer of Dear White People!
Courtney Sauls on The Resurgence: “New black voices with an old message of self-respect and class and grace. An homage to Spike Lee and Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee and Denzel and Eartha Kitt and Billy Dee and Lena Horne and so on and so forth. When being black and creative was about upholding truth and pushing boundaries and making way for excellence and not settling for the same story over and over again. The Resurgence is a throwback with a current swing. It is ‘bringing black back to Manchester!’ (Sam White quote ;))”
Upcoming: Legends, New series from TNT this fall
Writer, producer, creative, college graduate and perhaps most importantly: Hillman Alum. Her favorite movie is Do the Right Thing, favorite color, purple and she prefers The Wizard of Oz to The Wiz. Waithe is currently a writer on the Fox series, Bones. She’s worked for Gina Prince-Bythewood…and knows her personally. She’s a producer on the Sundance Film Fest winner, Dear White People, which was recently picked up by Lionsgate. Moreover, she’s the writer/creator of Twenties, a ripped-from-her-diary new comedy backed by Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit.
On The Resurgence: The resurgence is a group of people that are dedicated to being great. They hone their craft constantly. And their greatness is so palpable that it forces other artists to be better.
Lena Waithe on Take Part Live:
Twenties Press: The Visibility Project | The Frisky | Erica Vain | After Ellen | NewsOne | Autostraddle
Twenties Pilot Presentation: “Hattie’s Humble Opinions” (Pt. I) | “The Birthday Party” (Pt. II) | “Tampons vs. Pads” (Pt. III) | “Fuck the Voice” (Pt. IV)
DEAR WHITE PEOPLE
Dear White People: Official Site | Instagram | IMDB | Twitter | Tumblr | YouTube
Dear White People Clips: Teaser Trailer | “You Can’t Eat Here” (#1) | “The Tip Test” (#2) | “Black People Can’t Be Racist” (#3)
Save Me (Short Film):
Body of a Barbie:
Women’s Roundtable Feat. Lena Waithe & Ashley Blaine Featherson:
Two BLACK ACTRESSES in a Car feat. Nia Jervier & Yaani King:
Two GAY GUYS in a Car Feat. DJ Pierce aka Shangela: