EntertainmentLifestyle

D.C. Millennials Get Sneak Peak of ‘STAR’

When Lee Daniels, the creator of the highly-popular FOX show “EMPIRE,” first released the pilot for the show, reviews were mixed about whether it would become a hit.

Jessica Grange and Sheena Ballard, both from Alexandria, attended a “HavPlenty Brunch” on Sunday, Nov. 13 and said they can’t wait to see more of Lee Daniels’ new show “STAR.” /Photo by D. Kevin McNeir
Jessica Grange and Sheena Ballard, both from Alexandria, attended a “HavPlenty Brunch” on Sunday, Nov. 13 and said they can’t wait to see more of Lee Daniels’ new show “STAR.” /Photo by D. Kevin McNeir

Now Daniels hopes to extend his “Midas Touch” to a gritty new girl-group series, “STAR,” which tells the tale of three young women who have faced tough times, refused to give up and will do anything to succeed. It premiers on January 4th and Daniels describes it as the antithesis of “EMPIRE.”

On Sunday, Nov. 13, FOX invited about 100 people, mostly millennials from the DMV, to a special screening of the new show at the “HavPlenty Brunch” held at Acre 121 in Northwest where the lunchtime party continued well into the evening with DJ Fanci spinning the tunes.

The brunch, created by New York event producer Lauren Grant, rotates between three cities, New York, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., and according to Grant, serves as a way for millennials to share ideas, meet new people and discuss the hot topics of the day.

“I started the brunch two years ago in New York and it’s really grown,” said Grant, 33. “It brings millennials together in a space where they can be themselves and are respected. Our demographics show that 70 percent have bachelor’s degrees, 60 percent have master’s degrees – many of them are graduates of HBCUs.”

D.C. resident Reggie Rich (left) hob nobs with Karen Huger, one of the stars of “The Real Housewives of Potomac,” during a special screening of the soon to be premiered drama “STAR,” co-created by Lee Daniels, at Acre 121 in Northwest on Sunday, Nov. 13. /Photo by D. Kevin McNeir
D.C. resident Reggie Rich (left) hob nobs with Karen Huger, one of the stars of “The Real Housewives of Potomac,” during a special screening of the soon to be premiered drama “STAR,” co-created by Lee Daniels, at Acre 121 in Northwest on Sunday, Nov. 13. /Photo by D. Kevin McNeir

“We try to hold our events at Black-owned restaurants so we can support those who support us. And while Acre 121 isn’t Black-owned, they actually reached to me. As for ‘STAR,’ I think it’s a sure winner that will compliment ‘EMPIRE’ quite well,” said Grant, who noted that she’s always looking for feedback and can be reached via email: lauren@thegrantaccess.com.

Daniels says the show reflects the influence that “Dreamgirls” and “Paris is Burning” has had on his life and work and features Queen Latifah for whom he wrote one of the lead roles, Carlotta. Once again he’ll showcase talented actors who can equally sing with power, adding that while he likens “EMPIRE” to “Dynasty,” “STAR” will resemble an edgier form of “Good Times.”

Here are comments from those who attended the screening.

Jessica Grange, 32, Alexandria: “It’s a great story and I loved it from start to finish. It’s very different from ‘EMPIRE’ but I’d like to see the two shows connect sometimes and share characters.”

Sheena Ballard, 33, Alexandria: “’STAR’ is sure to be a definite hit – as big as ‘EMPIRE.’ I was surprised to see the mix of the cast. Some we’ve seen before – others are new faces. I like the combination.”

Reggie Rich, 28, NE: “It’s really good. And I like the inclusion of the LGBT community as part of the cast. Queen Latifah was outstanding and the musical production is amazing. Seeing so much Black star power at a time when Blacks are fighting for equal rights was very encouraging.”

Baker, 28, Los Angeles: “The story line is well done, the music is superb and the three girls cast as the members of the singing group are beautiful and talented. Watch out ‘EMPIRE.’

A special preview of “STAR” will air on Wednesday, Dec. 14 after the fall finale of “EMPIRE” at 8 p.m. ET.

D. Kevin McNeir – Senior Editor

Dominic Kevin McNeir is an award-winning journalist with more than 25 years of service for the Black Press (NNPA). Prior to moving East to assist his aging parents, the native Detroiter engineered a transformation of The Miami Times resulting in its being named the NNPA’s “Publication of the Year” in 2011 – just one of several dozen industry-related awards he’s earned in his career. He currently serves as senior editor for The Washington Informer. There, in the heart of the U.S. Capitol, he displays a keen insight for developing front-page news as it unfolds within the greater Washington area, capturing the crucial facts and facets of today’s intriguing, political arena. He has degrees from The University of Michigan, Emory University and Princeton Theological Seminary. In 2020, he received First Place for Weekly Newspaper, Commentary & Criticism, Society of Professional Journalists, Washington, D.C. Pro Chapter. Learn more about him at www.dkevinmcneir.com, Facebook – Kevin McNeir, Twitter - @mcneirdk, Linkedin – D. Kevin McNeir or email: mcneirdk@washingtoninformer.com.

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