YaYa DaCosta Alafia To Play Whitney Houston, B. Smith Battles Alzheimer’s Plus Audra McDonald Does It Again and Other Big Tony Winners

YaYa DaCosta Alafia (Photo: Rommel Demano/ Getty Images)

Greetings and Salutations! Here’s your daily dose of black entertainment news to get your week started: YaYa DaCosta Alafia is prepping to channel Whitney Houston in a Lifetime biopic, Lifestyle guru B. Smith shared that she has Alzheimer’s and Audra McDonald makes Tony Award history. Plus, there’s my watchlist and what’s hot (Lil’ Kim is a mommy) and not (the fatal pileup that injured Tracy Morgan).

YaYa DaCosta Alafia cast in Lifetime”s Whitney Houston film. You know, I love me some Nippy. Yes, there’s her music–she definitely had a voice of an angel. But as a long, lanky little brown girl who struggled to embrace her slender frame, it was affirming to see another long, lank brown girl (with a big smile and affinity for big hair) be celebrated for her talents and beauty like Whitney Elizabeth Houston. It’s nice to know that another young lady fitting that same description will portray Whitney in Lifetime’s forthcoming biopic “I Will Always Love You: The Whitney Houston Story.” Aside from having the right aesthetic, I believe YaYa DeCosta Alafia is a capable actress. Like, Whitney, the Brown University alumna started out as a model, winning second runner-up on “America’s Next Top Model” 10 years ago. Though she has a pretty good acting resume, I’ve only seen her in a couple of films including “The Kids Are All Right” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” I think she’ll do good. What does concern me, however, is that this film, which will mark her “Waiting to Exhale” co-star Angela Bassett’s directorial debut, will be a TV movie and will chronicle Whitney and ex-hubby’s Bobby Brown’s relationship. No shade to Angela or Lifetime, I think the network’s done some good work, but, I personally want to see a movie that showcases and examines the several layers and nuances that came to be Whitney’s life. I think she was a woman who lived particular truths because she couldn’t really be herself and the fallout from that led to her demise. To limit that to a two-hour TV movie–no matter the network–seems a bit of a disservice. That’s just my humble opinion. Not to mention, her family members aren’t feeling this either, according to reports (I know that their credibility is shot in many people’s eyes). Eh, regardless, I will tune in to watch, keeping my fingers crossed that it will be substantive and good. Will you watch? In the meantime, check out the documentary, “Always Whitney Houston,” that’s available online or with XFINITY On Demand, below.

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And speaking of pretty brown models …

Restaurateur and former model B. (Barbara) Smith recently revealed that she’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. My heart sank when my mother told me the news Friday. Six months ago, we buried my father’s sister whose death was related to Alzheimer’s and her mother, my grandmother also succumbed to a similar fate. I saw a clip from an interview she and her husband and business partner, Dan Gasby, did with CBS’s “Sunday Morning” where she struggled to remember basic things like the day of the week. I just teared up. At 64, she’s young and it’s unfortunate that she’s experiencing this. Witnessing that version of her contradicts much of what I came to associate with B.  I’ve always respected B.–known as the black Martha Stewart–for making the transition from the fashion world to successful businesswoman. I remember watching her show (Bounce TV currently airs it) and my mother purchasing her lifestyle magazine. I met her in Atlanta during a press event seven or eight years ago. She was very polite and I know I have a photo of us together floating around somewhere.  I’m forever optimistic and hope that she pulls through. Who knows, maybe I’ll be back here reporting on some preventative breakthrough relating to this ugly disease. B. Smiths’ interview with CBS “Sunday Morning” will air on June 15. Watch more about her battle below.

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Audra McDonald makes Tony Award History! Hats off to yet another talented brown girl, Audra McDonald. This lovely sista made Tony Award history Sunday when she took home her sixth, yes, count ’em, sixth, Tony Award. She won the honor for lead actress for her portrayal of Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill.” Those of us who hadn’t seen her performance were blessed with a peek when she performed “God Bless the Child” in her full costume, white gardenias and all, recently on “The View.” Watch that performance and you’ll see why she won. Her appearance, pitch and voice–honey, Lady Day was speaking through her. Audra wasn’t the night’s only big winner. “A Raisin in the Sun” won big, with director Kenny Leon taking home best director and Sophie Okonedo earning best actress in a featured role prizes, respectively, and the play itself winning best revival. James Monroe Iglehart, who portrayed the Genie, in “Aladdin,” took home best actor in a featured role. This is wonderful! I’m smiling so much, I’m going to play my favorite Billie Holiday cuts. In the meantime, check out the clip below of Audra on “The View” and read the full list of winners here.

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On my watchlist? What I’m tuning in to see and what I’ll catch up with XFINITY On Demand…
“Murder in the First”: I’m convinced that Taye Diggs’ is a part feline because that dude always lands on his feet when it comes to TV projects. A show he’s on gets canned? No worries, there’s another one waiting to sign him up. This time this handsome gent will star as a San Francisco detective in this TNT murder mystery. It airs tonight at 10 p.m. EST on TNT. Check out the overview below and learn more about the new series here.

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The Hot List: Who/What’s Hot, Not
HOT: The way Dr. Maya Angelou’s loved ones remembered her during her memorial service Saturday (It really and truly was quite moving. I love when people share stories. I guess that’s one of the reasons I’m in this biz!).
NOT: The way French Montana tried to clown Tichina Arnold on Instagram (Oh, Frenchie, you learned that day because she read your butt!).

HOT: Lil’ Kim giving birth to her daughter, Royal (Congrats!).
NOT: The ugly pileup that killed comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair and critically injured actor and comedian Tracy Morgan and several others (Surrounding all with light and love and hoping for a speedy recovery).

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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