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‘P-Valley’ Star Nicco Annan Wants Others Who Look Like Him To Truly Be Celebrated

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You feel Nicco Annan’s presence immediately when he walks in a room. Between his 6-foot-2 height, vibrant fashions and melodic baritone, his energy is dominating. But not so dominating that it engulfs. Instead, his energy is as warm and generous as it is regal and captivating. Similar to Uncle Clifford, the beloved house mother he portrays on “P-Valley,” Annan feels like home.

That’s no surprise. For two seasons strong, the Detroit-born actor has invited TV viewers down to The Pynk, a legacied stripper joint in the fictional Chucalissa, Mississippi, where you can get a lap dance, lemon pepper wings extra wet and a brush with seduction in one fell swoop — but only if you follow Cliff’s rules. With her flashy fashions, unique prowess, country twang and grandmother-like phrases that make you chuckle and think at the same time, it’s hard not to feel Uncle Clifford. Really feel her. And you’d be hard pressed to find another character like her in TV history.

Annan, 33, has been playing the role of the nonbinary HBIC for about the past decade, since he was cast in Katori Hall’s “Pussy Valley,” the play from which the television show was created. The play ran only in Minneapolis.

The actor, who worked closely with Hall in molding Uncle Clifford, knows that this character represents the intersection of so many people’s real everyday life experiences. Annan breathed life into Cliff. That’s why the breakout character has been able to keep viewers enraptured in all her glory.

Season 2 finds Uncle Clifford at risk of losing The Pynk, yet again, while navigating the weight of a world plagued by COVID-19. She’s taking care of everyone — her grandmother, her dancers, her club’s legacy — but has neglected taking care of her heart as she fights the honest, raw love she shares with a rising local rapper half her age, Lil Murda. Her story is about vulnerability, trials, triumphs and community care. Her story is about learning to choose love, despite what the world believes a Black nonbinary person should experience. She represents humanity.

The key ingredient to Annan harnessing Uncle Clifford’s power? “Intimacy,” Annan said.

Nicco Annan said the “P-Valley” role of Uncle Clifford “literally was the thing that kind of woke me up.”

When Annan auditioned in 2009, Hall invited him to read for the part of Uncle Clifford in her apartment. She was originally only in one out of the two scenes in the five-page script. The description of Uncle Clifford — in combination with the dialogue between dancers Mercedes, Mississippi and Gidget — energized him.

“It literally was the thing that kind of woke me up,” Annan said in reference to Uncle Clifford. “What is this character? Because normally when you would read a character breakdown, it’ll say, ‘Black, male.’ Or it’ll say, ‘30s, male.’ Or, ‘Black, gay, flamboyant.’ And it didn’t say that.”

He recalled one of the best notes he’d ever gotten from Hall in portraying Cliff. “Dare to bore me,” she told Annan. It allowed him to “breathe and just be.”

“I think that Katori created the character to be all the things,” Annan said. “It resonates with me when plus-size or full-figured women and full-figured men that are straight, that are gay, that are nonbinary, and everybody kind of identifies with her in a way. That’s a gag for me, for real. I’m like, oh, this is why the SlimFast didn’t work for you when you were a kid. This is why it took time for me to even be comfortable in my body and to be able to walk in that light, to stand in that sun; it’s an honor.”

“Growing up, I didn’t see myself, but I knew that there was something else inside me as an actor, as a person,” says Nicco Annan, who grew up in Detroit.
“Growing up, I didn’t see myself, but I knew that there was something else inside me as an actor, as a person,” says Nicco Annan, who grew up in Detroit.

The world Annan grew up in didn’t want him or any other young, Black gay kids from the Midwest to see characters like Uncle Clifford on screen. He knew he wanted more out of life than to be the heir of his family-owned carwash. He was teased for having dark skin and Ghanaian roots and being heavyset.

“Growing up, I didn’t see myself, but I knew that there was something else inside me as an actor, as a person,” he said. “I feel like I’ve been through this fire because I’ve been trusted with a testimony. That’s really how I feel because there are people who look like me, people who come from the Midwest, there are people in this whole LGBTQ+ spectrum that have not had a level of visibility.”

He visited Ghana, his dad’s home country, for the first time when he was 10. He was reluctant to take the long plane ride, especially after a classmate told him he’d be sleeping with animals. But that trip to Ghana helped illuminate some things about Annan that the U.S. wanted to hide from him. That trip helped him embrace his dark skin, full lips and gap in his front teeth — “Back home, having a gap is distinguished. That means that God smiled on you.”

He sat in the chief’s throne on a floor made of pure gold. It was a gradual process, but Annan, whose first name translates to “first-born son of a prince,” began to come into himself.

“To have that kind of experience as a child, even being teased and all that stuff prior to, it changed for me. I was like, ‘Oh, you’re worth something. And everyone just doesn’t know. Everyone just doesn’t know.’”

As Annan’s dance and choreography career merged with an interest in acting, he met agents, executives and others along the way who didn’t recognize his true worth. They’d tell him he had to lose weight in order to make it on TV. But with nods from legends like poet Maya Angelou and dancer George Faison, Annan knew he was destined for more.

That’s why the slow ascension of his success as Uncle Clifford means so much to him. With it, he’s been able to create a framework that’s allowed his TV dreams to come true. It also led to roles on “This Is Us” and “All American,” and choreography work on “All American: Homecoming.”

He also acknowledges that characters like Uncle Clifford only recently began to have the space to exist on TV. GLAAD’s 2022 “Where We Are on TV” report found that 11.9% of all characters on prime-time TV are of the LGBTQ community, a record high.

While filming Season 1 of “P-Valley,” Annan recalled, a nonbinary production assistant thanked him for the work he was doing on the show. When Annan told them he was just doing his job, the PA told him they were dressed in all black for the job but normally they dress like Uncle Clifford. They told Annan, “If I had seen a character on TV like Uncle Clifford when I was younger, I wouldn’t have tried to take my life.”

Annan said he was “stuck.” He said, “Because, my God, what a pressure, but also what a gift, what a gift. It has taught me that, Nicco Annan, you have a place.”

Nicco Annan says he wants more people who look like him to feel celebrated in Hollywood.
Nicco Annan says he wants more people who look like him to feel celebrated in Hollywood.

Embodying this role has done a lot for Annan, reminding himself of the space that is rightfully his in this industry as well.

“If this had happened in 2009, when we first started the project, it would be a very different experience. I don’t think that the world was ready,” Annan said. “I think that the world is in a place where we can see women for who they truly are. We can see Black bodies, we can see full bodies in a space that are not overly sexualized. There’s a level of artistry, there’s a level of appreciation for the sheen, for the stretch marks, for the tiger stripes and the sun rays.”

Annan has TV and film plans on the horizon. He hopes, more than anything, that more people who look like him experience true celebration in Hollywood, and not just in the form of awards and accolades.

“There will never be another Nicco Annan. I’m not trying to be anyone else. There are many people that have gone before me that I stand on their shoulders, and I love for all of us to be able to have time and shine. It’s really dope to be around, especially on a pop culture kind of show, and bringing this level of artistry and integrity to the characters. I always want to tell gritty, hard, beautiful, complex stories because in there is light. In there is fun, and there is joy. That is what this experience of life is truly all about.”





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Ginger Minj Pays Tribute To ‘Drag Mom’ Bette Midler With Spooky Music Video

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Ginger Minj is getting the spooky season in full swing with a spirited new take on a Halloween classic.

On Friday, the “RuPaul’s Drag Race” alum unveiled the music video for her jazzy version of “I Put a Spell on You” from the movie “Hocus Pocus.” The song’s release coincides with Minj’s appearance in the film’s much-buzzed-about sequel, which debuted on Disney+ last week.

The clip features Minj in full Winifred Sanderson drag, alongside queens Gidget Galore and MR MS Adrien as sister witches Mary and Sarah, respectively.

Fans of 1993’s “Hocus Pocus,” which starred Bette Midler, Kathy Najimy and Sarah Jessica Parker as the Sanderson sisters, will find a number of the movie’s iconic scenes faithfully recreated ― albeit with a modern polish.

Watch the video for “I Put a Spell on You” below.

“It’s the season of the witch!” Minj, whose real name is Joshua Allen Eads, told HuffPost in an interview. “You can walk into any gay bar in the country between Sept. 1 and Nov. 1, and most likely you’ll find a trio of queens lip-syncing this song. I thought: ‘It’s been 29 years, let’s give it a little facelift!’”

The “I Put a Spell on You” video is directed by Minj’s husband, CeeJay Russell, also a longtime “Hocus Pocus” devotee.

“I have always wanted to direct my husband in a video,” Russell said in an email, “and when he asked me, I jumped at the opportunity.”

Minj, a Florida native, was a finalist on the seventh season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” which aired in 2015. Since then, she’s released three studio albums and appeared in a number of movies, including Netflix’s “Dumplin,’” starring Jennifer Aniston and Danielle Macdonald.

“She’s my new drag mom,” Minj said of her “Hocus Pocus 2” co-star Bette Midler.

Dimitrios Kambouris via Getty Images

In fact, it was Minj’s work on “Dumplin’” that led to her “Hocus Pocus 2” casting. Last year, she was performing as sea witch Ursula in a “Disney Villains” show in England when she received a call from “Dumplin’” director Anne Fletcher, who’d recently been hired to direct “Hocus Pocus 2.”

“Next thing I know, I’m arguing on-camera with Bette Midler about teeth,” quipped Minj, who appears as a drag version of Winifred Sanderson in the film alongside two other “Drag Race” veterans, Kahmora Hall and Kornbread “The Snack” Jeté, as Sarah and Mary Sanderson.

As to what she learned from working with the Divine Miss M herself, she added: “She’s my new drag mom.”





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‘Late Show’ Pays Mocking Musical Tribute To Herschel Walker With A Shaggy Classic

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Colbert’s team reworked Walker’s “that wasn’t me” rejection of the allegation to the Shaggy and RikRok 2000 hit, “It Wasn’t Me.” After the bombshell reports this week that Walker helped his girlfriend get an abortion, he has drawn accusations of hypocrisy, given that he is running with a staunch anti-abortion message. (Some voters don’t seem to mind.)

“Lots of people think they’ve caught me red-handed, lying all about my kids,” the song begins.

Watch the rest of the parody here:

And compare it to Shaggy’s original here:





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Jimmy Kimmel Slaps Ron DeSantis With Perfect Will Smith-Chris Rock Callback

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Jimmy Kimmel says that as Florida deals with the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, a key part of the state’s cleanup and recovery is going to be pretty awkward for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“Well, guess who’s coming to help Florida recover from the hurricane? That’s right: a group of immigrants,” he said, as migrant workers head to Florida to help with the cleanup.

Kimmel couldn’t help but point out the irony.

“Ron DeSantis bringing in immigrant workers to do hurricane cleanup is like Will Smith asking Chris Rock to play his birthday party,” Kimmel said.

See more in his Thursday night monologue:





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Niecy Nash And Wife Reveal Comic Reason For Matching Tattoos Of Another Woman’s Name

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Actor Niecy Nash and her wife, singer Jessica Betts, have a permanent reminder of a humorous misunderstanding.

During a joint appearance on “The Tamron Hall Show” on Tuesday, the “Reno 911!” star explained why each of them have “Cora” tattooed on their bodies, despite it not being either’s name — and the bizarre story behind it.

The mix-up began when they first met, and Betts asked Nash about her real name, as Niecy is her stage name.

The 40-year-old said Nash told her her real name is Carol, but she misheard it as “Cora” and then called her by the wrong name for “almost two years” while they were dating.

“One day she said, ‘Why do you call me Cora?’ And I was, like, ‘That’s your name!’” Betts recalled.

Nash, 52, then vehemently corrected her wife, responding, “No, it’s not! I thought it was something that the cool kids called each other in New York on the street!”

The “Claws” actor jokingly added, “I said, ‘My name is not Cora,’ and she said, ‘It is now.’”

The mishap turned into an adorable inside joke between the two, with Betts recently tattooing “Cora” on her neck to celebrate her wife.

On Wednesday, the “Dahmer” actor revealed Betts’ new ink in an Instagram post.

“It’s up and stuck…. JB, I’m Always & Forever your ‘Cora’ @jessicabettsmusic #IYKYK,” Nash captioned the post alongside heart emojis.

In the short clip, Nash also showed off her own tattoo, which reads “Mrs. Cora Betts,” while dancing in a swimsuit.

In August 2020, the pair wed during a surprise ceremony less than a year after she announced her split from husband Jay Tucker.





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Charlie Puth Responds To Criticism He’s ‘Queerbaiting’ Fans With Thirst Traps

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Charlie Puth says fans can expect to hear the LGBTQ community’s influence on his new album, even if he has no intention of “queerbaiting” his audience.

In recent months, the pop singer has raised eyebrows with steamy TikTok videos and Instagram photos, many of which show him in various stages of undress. One particularly eyebrow-raising post, for instance, showed him revealing a hint of derrière in what appeared to be a behind-the-scenes snapshot of a photo or video shoot.

Not surprisingly, the imagery has garnered a lot of attention from both women and men, prompting criticism that Puth is pandering to queer people specifically. Other pop stars, including Billie Eilish and Harry Styles, have faced similar accusations.

But in a GQ interview published Thursday to coincide with the release of his third album, “Charlie,” the four-time Grammy nominee maintained that his posts aren’t intended “to antagonize anybody” but merely to showcase his chiseled physique, honed by long hours at the gym.

“These gym sessions are expensive in LA!” he quipped.

Charlie Puth will release his third album, “Charlie,” Oct. 8.

Frazer Harrison via Getty Images

Even so, Puth has come to look to LGBTQ people for musical inspiration. Earlier this year, he recalled an incident in which Elton John told Puth that Puth’s earlier music “sucked,” prompting him to reconsider his artistic approach moving forward. And in his GQ interview, he singled out two new songs, both of which he says reflect the queer community’s influence.

“I think LGBTQ+ culture is so ahead of its time, culturally, sonically, musically, everything-ly, that when I had a less than perfect song at the studio and I was by myself and I saw everybody having a great time, I literally heard a different song in my head,” Puth said, recalling a recent drive past gay clubs in West Hollywood while en route to his recording studio. “I rearranged the whole thing, I drove back to the studio, I was so inspired.”

The song eventually became “Loser,” the seventh track on “Charlie.” Another track, “There’s a First Time for Everything,” is meant as an homage to Madonna’s 1985 smash “Into the Groove” ― a mainstay of gay dance clubs around the world since its release.

“I wanted to [recapture] the feeling that it gave people in 1985 when they first heard that song,” he added.

And for those who do appreciate his thirsty presence on social media, Puth suggests there’s more to come.

“I am very horny,” he said. “All the time.”





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‘Jeopardy!’ Producer Tries To Hush Criticism Over Proposed Rule Change

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“Jeopardy!” executive producer Michael Davies wants to clear the air after facing criticism in September for a proposed rule change to the game show.

Davies added at the time that the suggested rule change would be an incentive that wouldn’t impact who wins the game.

“Jeopardy!” fans asked on social media if the change was “too big” to be a good idea, while others hoped the incentives would not impact the game’s score.

“It doesn’t need to be reined in yet because it hasn’t been enacted in any way,” he said. “But a lot of responses on social [media] to award a prize of some sort to people who run a category on Jeopardy! That would not … would not affect gameplay.”

“It would not add to that game total; it would not be there [on players’ scores],” Davies continued. “It would be a separate thing.”





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French Author Annie Ernaux Wins Nobel Prize For Literature

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STOCKHOLM (AP) — French author Annie Ernaux was awarded this year’s Nobel Prize in literature for “the courage and clinical acuity with which she uncovers the roots, estrangements and collective restraints of personal memory,” the Swedish Academy said Thursday.

Ernaux, 82, started out writing autobiographical novels, but quickly abandoned fiction in favor of memoirs.

Her more than 20 books, most of them very short, chronicle events in her life and the lives of those around her. They present uncompromising portraits of sexual encounters, abortion, illness and the deaths of her parents.

Anders Olsson, chairman, Nobel Committee for literature, said Ernaux’s work was often “uncompromising and written in plain language, scraped clean.”

“She has achieved something admirable and enduring,” he told reporters after the announcement in Stockholm, Sweden.

Ernaux describes her style as “flat writing” (ecriture plate), a very objective view of the events she is describing, unshaped by florid description or overwhelming emotions.

In the book that made her name, “La Place” (A Man’s Place), about her relationship with her father, she writes: “No lyrical reminiscences, no triumphant displays of irony. This neutral writing style comes to me naturally.”

Her most critically acclaimed book was “The Years” (Les annees), published in 2008 and describing herself and wider French society from the end of World War II to the present day. Unlike in previous books, in “The Years,” Ernaux writes about herself in the third person, calling her character “she” rather than “I”. The book received numerous awards and honors.

Last year’s prize went to the Tanzanian-born, U.K.-based writer Abdulrazak Gurnah, whose novels explore the impact of migration on individuals and societies.

Gurnah was only the sixth Nobel literature laureate born in Africa, and the prize has long faced criticism that it is too focused on European and North American writers. It is also male-dominated, with just 16 women among its 118 laureates.

The prizes to Gurnah in 2021 and U.S. poet Louise Glück in 2020 helped the literature prize move on from years of controversy and scandal.

In 2018, the award was postponed after sex abuse allegations rocked the Swedish Academy, which names the Nobel literature committee, and sparked an exodus of members. The academy revamped itself but faced more criticism for giving the 2019 literature award to Austria’s Peter Handke, who has been called an apologist for Serbian war crimes.

A week of Nobel Prize announcements kicked off Monday with Swedish scientist Svante Paabo receiving the award in medicine for unlocking secrets of Neanderthal DNA that provided key insights into our immune system.

Three scientists jointly won the prize in physics Tuesday. Frenchman Alain Aspect, American John F. Clauser and Austrian Anton Zeilinger had shown that tiny particles can retain a connection with each other even when separated, a phenomenon known as quantum entanglement, that can be used for specialized computing and to encrypt information.

The Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded Wednesday to Americans Carolyn R. Bertozzi and K. Barry Sharpless, and Danish scientist Morten Meldal for developing a way of “snapping molecules together” that can be used to explore cells, map DNA and design drugs that can target diseases such as cancer more precisely.

The 2022 Nobel Peace Prize will be announced on Friday and the economics award on Monday.

The prizes carry a cash award of 10 million Swedish kronor (nearly $900,000) and will be handed out on Dec. 10. The money comes from a bequest left by the prize’s creator, Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel, in 1895.





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