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BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: Jacob Latimore moves from music to movie magic

“It’s a crazy, overwhelming time in my career,” says Jacob Latimore of his deserved new fame as an actor. In a matter of four years, the popular recording artist has amassed roles in major crowd pleasers such as “Black Nativity,” “Ride Along” and “The Maze Runner.”

He now portrays a well-meaning L.A. street magician who gets in over his head in writer-director J.D. Dillard’s engaging feature debut, “Sleight,” opening April 28 in theaters nationwide. The latest from the producers of “Get Out” co-stars Dule Hill (who just got engaged to Jazmyn Simon of HBO’s “Ballers”), “Saturday Night Live” regular Sasheer Zamata and Seychelle Gabriel, whose undeniable chemistry with her lead is something to behold.

Latimore, who just released “Love Drug,” a video from his current album “Connection,” drew from his music background to help bring his character Bo to life.

“I know about having to be charismatic in front of people and looking them in the eyes,” he said. “That energy was important for me making [the magic] as real as possible on the set.”

The 20-year-old has learned from some of the best in the business.

“Anytime Will [Smith] starts speaking, I literally just cross my legs and like start listening,” said Latimore of his “Collateral Beauty” co-star. “He’s always dropping a gem and you just so not want to miss it.”

Up next is Kathryn Bigelow’s “Detroit,” a gritty look at the rioting that rocked the city during the summer of 1967, only he can’t speak much about it until it is released in August.

“She’s so mysterious and strategic about how she releases things,” he said of the Oscar-winning director of “The Hurt Locker” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” “As an actor, I didn’t get part of the script until I got to the set. This was that type of movie where each character didn’t know what was happening to the next. She wanted us to expect the unexpected from the cops, which was an incredible way to work.”

“While we were filming, they were actually rioting in my hometown of Milwaukee,” he added. “That just showed me that nothing has really truly changed. The kid [Sylville Smith] that was killed by the cop actually grew up in the neighborhood when I was a toddler. When we got to the set, even though we were in a time period, the only thing that was different for us were the clothes. It was surreal and the most emotional set I’ve ever been on. It’s definitely going to show on screen and people are really going to feel this one.”

Latimore is currently in Chicago making his first foray into episodic drama with Showtime’s “The Chi,” executive produced by Common. It marks the second project together with his good friend Jason Mitchell (“Kong: Skull Island” “Straight Outta Compton”), who he says insists, contrary to rumors, he’s not dating Mary J. Blige.

CAUSE WORTHY: Husband and wife team Richard Lawson and Tina Knowles Lawson host the inaugural Wearable Art Gala, to be held on April 29 at the California African American Museum. Their family — Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, Solange Knowles, Bianca Lawson and Kelly Rowland — will serve as the gala’s honorary chairpersons and judges for the evening’s best creations.

The gala will raise money for the Lawson founded WACO (Where Art Can Occur) Theater Center, Los Angeles’ newest theatrical and cultural institution. Chris Spencer will serve as the gala’s master of ceremonies, with Star Jones joining to host the live auction portion of the evening catered by famed L.A. restaurant Harold & Belle’s. For tickets, visit www.wacotheatercenter.com/events/gala.

City of Hope, a world-renowned leader in cancer and diabetes research and treatment, joins forces with the Warrior of the Light Foundation to present the first “Butterfly Ball” on April 29 at the Peppermint Club. The Black Eyed Peas, Too Short, Nikka Costa, Earl St. Clair and special guests will perform at the fundraising event celebrating the legacy of cancer-fighting music industry executive Yassy Hosseini on what would have been her 40th birthday. Liz Hernandez of “Access Hollywood” and Power 106 will emcee.

Baaba Maal is raising money for charity: Water, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries, by releasing an exclusive digital reissue of his critically acclaimed album “The Traveller.” It will be accompanied by a new 50-minute documentary of his annual Blues Du Fleuve Festival in hometown Senegal, as well as a 12-minute acoustic short film. It is available exclusively at www.baabamaal.tv/.

CLIPPETTES: “Race With Jay Z,” a third docuseries from his collaboration with the Weinstein Company, is in development as a six-parter for National Geographic

The Lower Depth Theatre Ensemble’s west coast premiere of the racially charged Civil War era drama “Pure Confidence,” runs through April 30 in the Sacred Fools theatre complex

Standout vocalists Leela James and Daley bring their joint tour to the Regent Theater on May 4, while Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely hold court at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

TC ON TV: April 28 – “Dear White People” (Netflix): Antoinette Robinson (“The Haves and the Have Nots”) and Nia Long star in this satirical series based on Justin Simien’s independent film hit about black students at an predominantly white Ivy League university. “Rodney King” (Netflix): Spike Lee directs this film version of Roger Guenvuer Smith’s acclaimed biographical one-man show. “ELEAGUE Street Fighter V Invitational Celebrity Showdown” (TBS): Shaquille O’Neal, Lupe Fiasco, Reggie Bush and others compete to raise money for their charities.

April 29 – “2017 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony” (HBO): Lenny Kravitz performed his tribute to Prince at the event inducting Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey, Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur and Yes.

April 30 – “Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall” (ID): The much-missed TV anchor investigates sexual assault in college during this 60-minute special. “American Gods” (Starz): Neil Gaiman’s fantasy at last is adapted into a series starring Ian McShane, Pablo Schreiber, Crispin Glover, Yetide Badaki and Orlando Jones as an African trickster god. “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” (CNN): L.A., Here he comes! “United Shades of America” (CNN): W. Kamau Bell returns with this look at “immigrants and refugees.” “Watch What Happens Live” (Bravo): Nene Leakes has something to say.

May 3 – “Empire” (Fox): “Original Soundtrack, Season 3,” has just been released with stand-out tracks such as the Mariah Carey and Jussie Smollet duet “Infamous,” and ones with guest stars Rumer Willis and Fetty Wap. It’s available digitally with Walmart the exclusive retailer for the CD.

DEAL WORTHY: For one week only (May 2–9), Live Nation is launching its “Kickoff to Summer Ticket Promotion” by making over one million tickets available for just $20. Chris Brown; Earth, Wind & Fire with Chic, featuring Nile Rodgers; Enrique Iglesias & Pitbull; Future; Jermaine Dupri’s SoSoSUMMER 17; John Mayer; Lionel Richie & Mariah Carey; New Kids on the Block with Paula Abdul & Boyz II Men; and Prince Royce are among the tours included. Visit www.livenation.com/20ticket for more info.

TASTY QUIP: “I have said it once and I’ll say it again, this world has come so far but yet we have so much further to go. Yes, we have broken down so many barriers. However, there are a plethora more to go.” – SERENA WILLIAMS on Instagram

 

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