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ESSENCE Magazine’s December Digital cover has just been revealed, featuring Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Taye Diggs, Melissa De Sousa, Regina Hall, Sanaa Lathan and Terrence Howard.

ESSENCE December Digital Cover

Source: ESSENCE / Essence

The Best Man started filming in 1998 when the members of the now-star-studded ensemble cast were in various stages of their careers. Sanaa Lathan, Regina Hall, Melissa De Sousa and Monica Calhoun were in the early days of establishing themselves as household names, while Nia Long, Taye Diggs, Morris Chestnut, Terrence Howard and Harold Perrineau were just entering their prime as movie stars.

That cast has maintained a love for one another and the characters they reprised for 2013’s The Best Man Holiday and the forthcoming series, The Best Man: The Final Chapters, which is a testament to their awareness of the unique position they hold in Hollywood.

“I feel like it’s never easy and we’re naturally in a situation to have to be competitive but that doesn’t mean we can’t love and respect one another,” says Long, who plays Jordan Armstrong in the franchise. “It also doesn’t mean that we can’t share what we know because here’s what we do know: this shit goes like this, it goes like this, it goes like this, it goes like this and then it goes right back up,” she says, motioning different directions with her hands. “So, the best thing we can do is at least be consistent with each other because we know that this industry is not consistent at all.”

Morris Chestnut went on to talk about how different his role in The Best Man was versus the rest of Hollywood, where they wanted to typecast Black men.

“I was auditioning for gangster number one, gangster number two,” he recalls. “It was a gang genre at the time and, of course, I wasn’t getting them. It was just so refreshing to see us all as young, successful Black people on-screen.”

Terrence Howard discussed how the real battle was the opinion that there could only be one leading Black male in a project. “Head cutting” is how he describes the practice of singling out the “it” Black actor of the time for lead roles, which he expected to be implored when he read with Taye Diggs during his audition.

“[Taye] had been offered the lead on The Wood and I had been trying to talk to the damn director. They wouldn’t see me, neither would the casting director,” Howard said. “So, when I see him [at the audition], it’s like, wow, the head cutting has to begin. And that’s what I think makes this so great because as much as we became friends, we were always aware that only one person is going to take the frame.”

“I was going through some really heavy duty, personal stuff and I had to get emotional,” Diggs said of the scene in the film when his character admits to Q that he needs to borrow money. “Right before—this is where I knew you always had my back”—he tells Howard, “I said, ‘Listen man, right before we start the scene, just say this word to me.’ And I gave him a word. And immediately, he didn’t know what I was talking about, but he was like, ‘I got you, man.’”

Taye continued: “So, we start the scene and he locked in with me. He looked at me and he said the word. Immediately I got emotional. I remember that moment where we were all a team holding each other up, supporting each other.”

Those memories are what make it hard for Diggs to accept The Final Chapters will actually be the end when the series premieres on Peacock Dec. 22.

“I’m not convinced it’s over, personally,” Diggs told the magazine. “I’m not approaching it like that. Depending on how well this does, who knows what’s going to happen.”

You can read the full cover story over on ESSENCE.


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