Kerry Washington talks Olivia Pope, slavery and politics
Kerry Washington plays Olivia Pope and Tony Goldwyn plays President Fitzgerald Grant on "Scandal."
September 27th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Kerry Washington talks Olivia Pope, slavery and politics

By Lisa Respers France, CNN

(CNN) - Kerry Washington knows you have been waiting.

The star of the hit ABC series "Scandal" is fully aware that there is a legion of "gladiators in suits" (as fans call themselves) eagerly awaiting the return of the series. She, too, is pretty excited to be back playing Washington, D.C. insider and crisis management expert Olivia Pope. Pope is a "fixer" who formerly worked for her lover, Republican President Fitzgerald Grant.

When told that there are many women who try to emulate both Pope's sense of fashion and take-charge personality, Washington laughs.

"I do, too," she said.

'Scandal' updates image of black women on network television

The series ended its first season with the revelation that the character Quinn Perkins, an employee of Pope's (and played by Katie Lowes), was not actually Quinn Perkins.

Perkins calls Pope after she is jailed for the murder of her boyfriend, a reporter who was digging into the secrets of President Grant's administration.

Did we mention that said president also happens to be in love with Pope?

Season 2 answers the "Who is Quinn" question in the first episode, but Washington said there will be plenty of other surprises and mystery this season that even she isn't sure about.

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Filed under: Black in America • Pop culture • Who we are • Women
'Selena' co-star Lupe Ontiveros dies at 69
July 27th, 2012
12:30 PM ET

'Selena' co-star Lupe Ontiveros dies at 69

By Lisa Respers France, CNN

(CNN) - Actress Lupe Ontiveros, who co-starred in the hit films "Selena" and "As Good As It Gets," has died, CNN confirmed on Friday. She was 69.

Her publicists told CNN the cause of death was liver cancer.

The Mexican-American actress built her career playing domestic workers, and in a 2009 interview with NPR said she had appeared as a maid more than 150 times in roles on shows like "Who's the Boss." Her near constant gigs made her one of the most recognizable Latina actresses in Hollywood.

Read the full post on CNN's Marquee blog

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Filed under: Latino in America • Who we are • Women
Frank Ocean effect: What happens when a hip hop artist confesses same sex love?
Frank Ocean performs at the 2012 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at The Empire Polo in Indio, California.
July 5th, 2012
06:30 PM ET

Frank Ocean effect: What happens when a hip hop artist confesses same sex love?

by Lisa Respers France, CNN

(CNN) - "Today is a big day for hip hop."

When music impresario Russell Simmons penned those words and posted them Wednesday, he was not referring to a new album dropping or the debut of an exciting artist. He was talking about a male artist's admission that his first love was a man.

"I am profoundly moved by the courage and honesty of Frank Ocean," Simmons wrote on the site Global Grind. "Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear."

Ocean, an up-and-coming R&B singer, recently posted on his Tumblr that the summer he was 19 years old he fell in love with a man.

"We spent that summer, and the summer after, together," Ocean wrote. "Every day almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I'd see him, and his smile.

"Sleep I would often share with him," Ocean continued. "By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating to the women I had been with, the ones I cared for and thought I was in love with."

The revelation is significant given that it is unheard of in hip hop for male performers to admit to anything other than hardcore heterosexuality and all of the bravado that comes along with many female conquests.

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'Uprising' documents role of hip-hop in L.A. riots
In the VH1 film "Uprising," Rodney King revisits the site where Los Angeles police officers beat him up in 1991.
May 2nd, 2012
05:09 AM ET

'Uprising' documents role of hip-hop in L.A. riots

By Lisa Respers France, CNN

(CNN)- In 1988, the West Coast hip-hop group N.W.A released a provocative song called "F**k tha Police," which stirred controversy and marked it as one of the most high-profile examples of tension between the black community in Los Angeles and authorities.

A few years later tensions erupted into rioting and violence in that city following the acquittal of Los Angeles police officers in the videotaped beating of motorist Rodney King.

Those two incidents, and whether the former helped spark the latter, is just one of the topics explored in the VH1 documentary "Uprising: Hip Hop and the L.A. Riots."

The project was the brainchild of director Mark Ford and executive producer Brad Abramson, both of whose professional credits include stints at CNN. The pair told CNN earlier this year at the South by Southwest music, film and technology festival that the documentary was an idea they had long thought of bringing to the small screen.

"We had worked together on a documentary about N.W.A. a few years ago," Ford said. "That was always in my mind, the song 'F**K Tha Police' and how powerful it was, and was there a connection between that song and what happened years later?"

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