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BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: Carmen Ejogo whets her appetite with ‘Rattlesnake’

With roles in a string of hit movies, including “Selma,” “The Purge: Anarchy,” “Alex Cross,” “Sparkle,” “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise, and most recently, an award-worthy turn in the third season of HBO’s “True Detective,” Carmen Ejogo has become one of the industry’s most reliable actresses. 

This time, in addition to starring, she has added executive producer to her credits with the currently streaming Netflix horror thriller “Rattlesnake,” written and directed by Zak Hilditch

The story concerns a mother faced with taking on a deadly debt to save the life of her daughter played by engaging newcomer Appolonia Pratt.

“On the page I saw all the right elements of what would make for a fun, high-tension drama,” said Ejogo from the New Orleans set of the currently filming Bryan Cranston Showtime series “Your Honor.” “Anything that has some sort of existential threat in the mix typically whets my appetite. That’s part of why I was drawn to play this role, because it’s so far removed from anything that has confronted me in real life.” 

When asked what frightens her, the British-born daughter of a Nigerian father and a Scottish mother, offered “Psychology gaslighting type people in the world. Those people scare me because I think I have a good handle on personalities and when I get tripped up that really freaks me out. That makes me question everyone in my life.”

She has her eye on directing and is plugging away at writing a script for that project.  On the biopic front, Ejogo, who has already played Thomas Jefferson’s enslaved mistress Sally Hemings and civil rights icon Coretta Scott King twice, is looking at someone in the music industry. 

Bettye Davis, the [rock star ex-] wife of Miles Davis has been at the top of my list for a long time,” she confessed. “For many reasons I think she’d be an incredibly dynamic and exciting portrayal.”

Ejogo will next be seen in Netflix’s “Madame C.J. Walker,” a mini-series starring Octavia Spencer as America’s first black, self-made millionaire and hair care pioneer. She plays a mentor turned adversary loosely based on several people in Walker’s life.

“We deal with a lot of interesting things like colorism within the black community, the sexism of the times and just the level of ambition and achievements that was there in a lot of African-American women that don’t really get their moment in terms of history telling their story,” she revealed about the project executive produced by Spencer and LeBron James.

“I was very excited to be a part of this being brought to the screen,” she added. “We’re living in a time where there are certain places in this country where you can still be denied a job because of your hair being worn naturally which is an absolute outrage. So, to bring a sense of pride and celebration of black hair and culture is always a great opportunity for me.” 

AT THE MOVIES: “Harriet,” director Kasi Lemmons’ feature film based on the life of famed freedom fighter Harriet Tubman, arrives in theatres on Nov. 1. Cynthia Erivo stars as the remarkable liberator along with Leslie Odom Jr., Janelle Monae, Clarke Peters, Vanessa Bell Calloway, Omar J. Dorsey and Vondie Curtis-Hall.

A pivotal scene in the movie shows Tubman taking part in the Combahee River Raid during the Civil War. In honor of her services rendered in Beaufort, South Carolina, freeing more than 700 enslaved people, the city’s Tabernacle Baptist Church has launched a campaign to honor Tubman with a monument designed by renowned sculptor Ed Dwight.

The memorial will sit next to the 156-year-old church where the era’s iconic naval hero and statesman Robert Smalls is buried. To learn more about this project, visit www.harriettubmanmonument.com.

Also opening is Edward Norton’s long gestating passion project, which he directed, adapted and stars in. “Motherless Brooklyn” is a fascinating period mystery based on Jonathan Lethem’s 1999 novel. Bruce Willis, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michael Kenneth Williams, Willem Dafoe, Bobby Cannavale and Alec Baldwin support Norton as a detective struggling with Tourette’s.

Tasty Clips spoke with Williams after an advance Warner Bros. screening for Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta students. He tipped off that he’s currently in Georgia shooting “Lovecraft Country” for HBO and producers Jordan Peele and Misha Green. Of the horror series set in the antebellum south with Courtney B. Vance, Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Aunjanue Ellis, he smiled and said, “It’s going to blow some folks mind!” 

CLIPPETTES: “Queen Sugar” stars Kofi Siriboe and Dawn Lyen Gardener, Tasha Smith, Lance Gross, Antonique Smith, Malinda Williams, Monique Coleman, Gina Yashere, Estelle and more are confirmed for The Diaspora Dialogues, a cultural meeting of the minds produced by Koshie Mills. It’s set for Nov. 1 at the California African American Museum  

Also that evening, Cedric ‘The Entertainer’, Eddie Griffin, D.L. Hughley and George Lopez throw a “Comedy Get Down” at the Microsoft Theater; Quincy Jones presents Shelea at the Irvine Barclay Theatre; Thelma Houston begins a two-night stand of her new show “From Sunflower To Motown” at Catalina Jazz; and Marley Marl, Cut Chemist and Peanut Butter Wolf join author Ben Merlis to discuss his new book “Goin’ Off: The Story of The Juice Crew & Cold Chillin’ Records” at The Artform Studio   

Teen Vogue Summit 2019 will be held at Goya Studios Nov. 1-3 with speakers to include Issa Rae, Demi Lovato, Nicole Richie, Adrienne Bailon-Houghton, Evan Rachel Wood, Patrisse Cullors and Justine Skye

Aaron Neville Duo is at UCLA’s Royce Hall on Nov. 2; as Bone Thugs-N-Harmony hit The Rose in Pasadena; Tom Morello headlines with 93PUNX, featuring Vic Mensa, at the Belasco Theater; and the 4th annual ComplexCon featuring Kid Cudi, Anderson .Paak and more kicks off for two nights at the Long Beach Convention Center

Karamo Brown, just ousted from “Dancing With The Stars,” signs copies of his book “I Am Perfectly Designed” at The Grove Barnes & Noble on Nov. 3 … 

An Evening with Booker T. Jones complete with music and reflections on his new memoir “Time Is Tight: My Life, Note By Note” is presented on Nov. 5 at The Bootleg Theatre.

TC ON TV: Nov. 1 – “Oprah’s Book Club” (AppleTV+): “The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates” is the subject of this series premiere. “The Elephant Queen” (AppleTV+): Chiwetel Ejiofor narrates this documentary about a herd traveling across the African savannah. “American Son” (Netflix): The Kerry Washington led Broadway play is adapted for the screen by director Kenny Leon. “See” (AppleTV+): Jason Momoa and Alfre Woodard star in this epic drama set 600 years in the future after a virus has decimated humankind and rendered the remaining population blind. “In The Long Run” (Starz): Idris Elba’s childhood is the inspiration for this series examining the lives of a family living in London in 1985. 

Nov. 3 – “Paul Shaffer Plus One” (AXS): Smokey Robinson “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” (Bravo): Kenya Moore is back with the family she’s always wanted, ready to spice things up.

Nov. 4 – “Hip Hop: The Songs That Shook America” (AMC): “Elevators” by OutKast “His Dark Materials” (HBO): Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton”), Clarke Peters (“The Wire”) and Ruth Wilson (“Luther”) are featured in this new series adaptation of Philip Pullman‘s award-winning fantasy trilogy. “Stories From The Stage” (World): Series hosts Theresa Okokon and Wes Hazard open each episode with the evening’s theme before three storytellers step onto the stage to fascinate audiences.

Nov. 5 – “The Wonderful World of Disney Presents The Little Mermaid Live!” (ABC): The 30th anniversary of the beloved animated classic is celebrated in a never-before-seen hybrid format weaving live performances by Queen Latifah, Shaggy and Auli’l Cravalho as Ariel. “Empire” (Fox): Leslie Uggams returns as Lucious’ mother in the episode that center around Cookie and her sisters’ girl trip. “Greenleaf” (OWN): Lynn Whitfield’s sly Lady Mae was the high point of the season ending tonight.

Nov. 6 – “The Apollo” (HBO): The history of the famed Harlem landmark is chronicled via archival footage, behind-the-scenes verité and interviews with artists including Patti LaBelle, Pharrell Williams and Jamie Foxx.  “Back In The Game” (CNBC): Baseball icon and mega-successful businessman Alex Rodriguez gives back by mentoring notables who have fallen on hard times and need help getting back on their feet. Tonight, former boxing champ Evander Holyfield gets a hand. 

Nov. 7 – “Conan Without Borders” (TBS): The talk show host visits Ghana with “Veep” star Sam Richardson in this one-hour special. 

TASTY QUIP: “I tell my daughter all the time, just because we are 12.5 percent of the population, doesn’t mean we just want 12.5 percent of the pie. When I started out as an actor, I wanted it all. I want the world. I don’t want to just stay in my lane.” – VIOLA DAVIS at the Rome Film Festival via the Hollywood Reporter

As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment columns in the nation, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to tastyclips@yahoo.com or via Twitter @tastyclips.