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“The Breaking Point” Miami Red Carpet Premiere Draws a Packed and Glamorous Crowd



by Mellissa Thomas


The Open Stage Club in Coral Gables, Florida. Photo by Mellissa Thomas.

The Open Stage Club in Coral Gables, Florida. Source: Mellissa Thomas

James Hunter’s gritty indie crime drama The Breaking Point premiered in Miami on Saturday to a crowd as amped and glamorous as Orlando’s red carpet premiere crowd – in fact, some of the Orlando attendees took the four-hour (or half-hour, depending on how they traveled) trek to Miami to experience the movie all over again, this time at the Open Stage Club, a restaurant in Coral Gables, Florida. Hunter and restaurant point of contact Ziomara Rivera-Valentin agreed to host the premiere there to coincide with the restaurant’s one-year anniversary. Dr. Denise Y. Mose was on hand once again conducting red carpet interviews.


The Stars and The Hottest Fashions

The event brought Orlando and Miami’s finest crowd, including Telemundo personalities, fellow indie actors, models, and recording artists.

As with any red carpet event, the attendees, especially the actors, filmmakers, and media personalities, brought their A-game, including the film’s stars Diana Lovell and Erik Grey. Lovell’s stylist, Jamie Tilly Lowery, accompanied her client to the Miami premiere. Lowery dressed her in an ambitious show-stopping white band dress that accentuated every single curve and provided a low-cut cleavage-bearing tease. While both of Lovell’s dresses are provocative, the white dress provided a smoother, cleaner look compared to the red tassels on her Orlando premiere dress.

Lead actress Diana Lovell with positive Hip Hop artist Theolodge (left) and lead actor Erik Grey (second from right). Photo by Martell Darnell Harding.

Lead actress Diana Lovell with positive Hip Hop artist Theolodge (left) and lead actor Erik Grey (second from right).


Miss International World Jennifer Rosario wowed in Miami again, as she did at the Orlando premiere, wearing a sequined sleeveless golden bodice gown with a long front slit and satin lining, a piece from Rosaura Sias Pipenburg’s 2014 Mystery collection; and Pipenburg was right at her side on the red carpet. Furthermore, Susan Drobnis-Ratcliff, who designed the glamorous strap Rosario boasted with her blue one-shoulder dress during Florida Fashion Weekend, was with her at the premiere.

Miss International World Jennifer Rosario (center) with Orlando Fashion Magazine Chief Editor Mellissa Thomas and Dayana Cristina. Photo by Jay Gourdine.

Miss International World Jennifer Rosario (center) with Orlando Fashion Magazine Chief Editor Mellissa Thomas (left) and Dayana Cristina. Source: Jay Gourdine.


“I started first by playing with the straps–” Pipenburg said when asked about the inspiration behind Rosario’s dress, pointing to the solid straps that lace across the center of the bodice. “And I love yellow.”

“And it’s my favorite color,” Rosario added with a smile.

Pipenburg explained that she uses a little fantasy in everything she designs, highlighting her 2014 Mystery collection. “I take colors from plants, photos…I take ideas from anywhere.”

Perhaps the most magnetic outfit of the night, however, was not that of any actor, but a stylist. Actor Christian Rivera’s stylist, Sandri Gonzalez, rocked an edgy sheer black romper getup and short blonde pompadour that would make even Pink jealous, smoky eyes and all.

Stylist Sandri Gonzalez makes the romper both classy and edgy in this black getup and blonde pompadour. Photo by Martell Darnell Harding.

Stylist Sandri Gonzalez makes the romper both classy and edgy in this black getup and blonde pompadour.


To be fair, Gonzalez did right by her client, and actually matched him. Rivera (below, center) looked suave and clean in his tailored monochromatic suit, his white jacket heightening his hazel eyes.

Some of "The Breaking Point" cast and other VIPs (l-r): Bonnie Cobb, Cyndi Crotts, Christian Rivera, his stylist Sandri Gonzalez, Edgar Lopez and Jenna Elizabeth. Photo by Martell Darell Harding.

Some of “The Breaking Point” cast and other VIPs (l-r): Curvy model and actress Bonnie Cobb, cast member Cyndi Crotts, actor Christian Rivera, his stylist Sandri Gonzalez, Edgar Lopez and Jenna Elizabeth.


The most fashionable man on the red carpet was Jarrod Knowles, one of Miami’s top indie filmmakers, who was also responsible for many of the night’s attendees – he graciously invited his network, and it showed great support. His textured leopard print collar stood out from his gray suit, making him stand out from every other man in the place.

Filmmaker Jarrod Knowles (center, in glasses) wows with a pop of leopard print. Model/actor Christopher Diaz and Wardrobe stylist Lauren Nicole Jordan follow him. Photo by Martell Darell Harding.

Filmmaker Jarrod Knowles (center, in glasses) wows with a pop of leopard print. Model/actor Christopher Diaz and Wardrobe stylist Lauren Nicole Jordan follow him.


Dr. Mose interviewed Rosario, lead stars Grey and Lovell, supporting cast members Tracy Wiu and Wendell Kinney; and recording artists Theolodge and Hisham “XS” Abul Fotouh. Also in attendance was Haiti Ambassador-at-Large Dr. Rudy Moise.

Haiti Ambassador-at-Large Dr. Rudy Moise with "The Breaking Point" actress Kareen Kennedy. Photo by Kareen Kennedy.

Haiti Ambassador-at-Large Dr. Rudy Moise with “The Breaking Point” actress Kareen Kennedy. Source: Kareen Kennedy.



The Breaking Point Screening

Traditionally movie screenings are done in theaters, which is the ultimate goal. However, there is something unique, and perhaps even more exciting, about watching a movie simultaneously playing on several screens throughout a packed restaurant, including the large projector screen hovering the stage. While Open Stage Club cordially hosted just under 200 people, the slightly more intimate setting made for a greater ambience.

(Not to mention offering appetizers so pretty, patrons were hesitant to eat it for fear of marring the artful handiwork.)

The movie simultaneously plays on every screen in the restaurant. Photo by Mellissa Thomas.

The full house looks on (and munches) as the movie simultaneously plays on every screen in the restaurant. Source: Mellissa Thomas.


Additionally, a movie theater doesn’t encourage conversation – in fact, speaking or texting can get someone killed. Literally. However, the restaurant facilitated networking, since in some cases complete strangers were placed at a table.


Behind The Music

After the screening came the after-party, featuring live music, hosted by Rhyan Michele Adams. That’s right – the Miami premiere not only included the movie’s screening, but live performances by indie artists Lissy B & 2RU (who were also in the movie), R&B singer Rod Anthony, positive Hip Hop artist Theolodge, singer Hisham “XS” Abul Fotouh, unique Hip Hop and R&B singer Phal-Meh, and Young Ez and his crew, traveling all the way from Brooklyn to be there. In that order.

Lissy B and 2RU opened up with fun-loving, dance-happy pop, with quirky dance moves to boot. Each performed solo, then closed out as a duo.

Rod Anthony brought the soulful sound of a thirsty bachelor coupled with a new man’s arrogant savor of the now – a fitting match for several of the male characters in the movie.
Theolodge brought mindful lyrics and wordplay that forced the audience’s ear.

“I’m intrigued to see where it goes,” Theolodge said of the movie and movement in a red carpet interview. “A breaking point can be for anything; it can apply to what’s happening next.”

The movie’s theme especially hits home for Theolodge because it seamlessly ties in with his own brand and motto: Dream and believe, I promise you can do it all. “No one can stop your dream but you.” And he’s lived it, too: as a coach and a teacher, among other things, and now a Hip Hop artist spreading a positive message each time he graces the stage. In fact, the hook in his opening song, which he got the audience to recite, says, “I had a dream, I woke up, and I got it.”

Having been involved with music since the age of seven, that hook affirms his own life.

Along that autobiographical vein, Hisham “XS” Abul Fotouh’s performance followed Theolodge, captivating the audience with a three-song love story chronicling his pursuit of a woman he fell in love with outside of his race and culture, and the backlash he experienced during their courtship. The songs were an engrossing mix of western pop and Middle Eastern melody. The handsome tenor, who is also one of the movie’s producers, riffed in his native Egyptian several times throughout the set, which ended with him paying tribute to the young woman in the story, his beloved of one year, who was in the audience.

Hisham "XS" Abul Fotouh sings his heart out during "The Breaking Point" after-party. Photo by Mellissa Thomas.

Hisham “XS” Abul Fotouh sings his heart out during “The Breaking Point” after-party. Source: Mellissa Thomas.


Phal-Meh brought an alternative underground sound, “basement Hip Hop” as he called it, crooning with the same rough-around-the-edges appeal of a D’Angelo, channeling songs of frustration, relationship drama, and even a few creative covers of classic songs like Bob Marley’s “Could You Be Loved.” Phal-Meh’s songs created the perfect backdrop for the movie’s lead character Shawn Dickerson, who was also frustrated and rough around the edges, but ultimately had good intentions for his gritty actions.

Young Ez and his crew, in true Brooklyn fashion, closed the night out by musically taking the audience back to the streets.

By the time the long night wrapped at about 3 a.m., Hunter and The Breaking Point officially left their mark on Florida’s hottest city. Hunter’s next stop: movie distribution.


All photos by Martell Darell Harding except where otherwise noted.



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Mellissa Thomas headshotAbout the Author:
Orlando Fashion Magazine Chief Editor and Publisher Mellissa Thomas is a Jamaica-born writer. She’s a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with Entertainment Business Masters and Film Bachelors degrees from Full Sail University in Winter Park, FL.

She’s currently available for hire, writing content for websites, blogs, and marketing material, and as a book coach. She also writes poetry, screenplays, and ghostwrites books.

She has published four books, all available on Her most recent release, “Faded Diamonds”, is now available in paperback on all major online book retailers and digitally available on the Kindle, Nook, and iBooks.



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Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness Coming March 2023



WINTER PARK, Fla. (Florida National News) – Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness, inspired by the children’s TV host and icon, comes to Orlando in March 2023. This week-long series of events was announced today at the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation in Winter Park.

“Fred McFeely Rogers devoted his entire life to reminding us of some of the most important ideas of what it means to be human among humans: love, respect and kindness,” explained Buena Vista Events & Management President & CEO Rich Bradley. “Many of us find that nearly 20 years after Fred’s passing, it is important to focus on his teachings once again, perhaps now more than ever. This is a week to re-engage with his massive body of work with some folks, and to introduce his teachings to others.”

Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness begins March 20, 2023, the date which would have been Fred’s 95th birthday, and concludes on Saturday, March 26 with the Red Sweater Soiree, a community dinner to recognize ten ordinary members of the community who inspire and exemplify the affinity that Fred Rogers had for showing kindness to our “Neighbors”.

Mister Rogers Week of Kindness coming March 20-26, 2023. Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

Activities planned for the week will include early childhood education activities and faculty training, as well as events open to the public.

“The events will be offered free or at low cost,” continued Bradley. “This week-long celebration is not a series of fundraisers, but rather about once again remembering and sharing some of the great work that Fred Rogers created, not only in early childhood education, but in reminding us that we are all part of one big ‘neighborhood’. Fred taught us the importance of accepting our Neighbors just the way they are and engaging in kindness with our interactions. I can’t think of another period in my lifetime where we needed to reflect on those messages again more than today.”

“There are three ways to ultimate success,” Fred Rogers was once quoted as saying. “The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind. Imagine what our neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”

Many of the activities of Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness will be attended by members of the cast and crew of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 – 1975, and again from 1979 – 2001. David Newell, known as “Mr. McFeely,” the “Speedy Delivery” man, appeared at today’s media conference via video, and looks forward to visiting Central Florida next March.

David Newell, “Mr. McFeely.” Photo Credit: Mike Brodsky (Florida National News)

Mister Rogers’ Week of Kindness is supported by the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, the Fred Rogers Institute, and Fred Rogers Productions. Details regarding the specific activities and venues will be released over the next few weeks.

For more information on the events, visit or

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A Quick Primer on the Team Solving Orange County’s Affordable Housing Crisis



Orange County’s Housing for All Task Force held its introductory meeting on April 12, 2019 at the Board of County Commissioner Chambers. Photo: Orange County Government.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – Orange County faces a growing affordable housing crisis, and Mayor Jerry Demings has taken notice–and action. Shortly after his inauguration, he formed Housing For All, an affordable housing task force to face the challenge head-on.

The Housing For All task force doesn’t meet monthly like the County Commission–in fact, their next meeting won’t be until October 4, 2019–but they do work when they’re not meeting. The task force is made up of three subcommittees, Design and Infrastructure Subcommittee, Accessibility and Opportunity Subcommittee and Innovation and Sustainability Subcommittee. These three subcommittees meet twice a month to come up with ideas and plans to fix the affordable housing problem.

Each subcommittee has a specific focus on ways to help solve the problem of affordable housing. The Design and Infrastructure Subcommittee is focused on the design of new affordable housing projects, the renovation of current affordable housing that might need fixing and land development for affordable housing units. The Accessibility and Opportunity Subcommittee is focused on making sure affordable housing is accessible to the major economic zones of the city, develop partnerships with groups and focus on outreach in the county. The Innovation and Sustainability Subcommittee is focused on finding ways to increase the supply of affordable housing and how to preserve affordable housing.

At their next meeting in October these subcommittees will update the county on what they have accomplished and what they plan to do in the future. For information from previous Housing for All Task Force meetings or the meeting schedule, visit the Orange County Government website.


Leyton Blackwell is a photojournalist and Florida National News contributor. |

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Opening Biopic ‘Te Ata’ Sets High Bar for 2016 Orlando Film Festival



ORLANDO: Chickasaw Nation Biopic 'Te Ata' Sets Stage for Orlando Film Festival.

ORLANDO (FNN NEWS) – Orlando Film Festival kicked off at Cobb Theaters in Downtown Orlando Wednesday night. The red carpet came alive with excited filmmakers and actors ready to showcase their projects to the Orlando community and, in some cases, to the world at large, including Nathan Frankowski, director of this year’s opening feature Te Ata.

About Te Ata

Frankowski’s biopic feature chronicles the true story of Chickasaw actress and storyteller Mary Frances Thompson, whose love of stories and the Chickasaw Nation fueled her to share the Chickasaw culture with new audiences in the early 1900s, a time when the United States was still growing as a nation and clashed with Native American peoples in the process.

Viewers are immediately swept into the saga from the film’s opening scene with a voice-over folk tale told by Mary Thompson’s father, T.B. Thompson (played by Gil Birmingham). Ironically, though his storytelling places the seed of inspiration in her, it slowly becomes a source of friction between them as she ages.

What makes the film engrossing is the sprawling backdrop upon which Thompson’s journey takes place. While young Te Ata (which means “The Morning”) flourishes with each solo performance and eventually sets her sights on Broadway, the Chickasaw Nation is fighting to secure the funding due them from the U.S. government in the face of ethnocentrism and religious bigotry–to the point that the government passed a law forbidding the sale of traditional Native American textiles and creations, which caused further financial struggle for the Chickasaw Nation. Viewers even experience the Thompsons’ fish-out-of-water feeling as the Chickasaw people’s territory, Tishomingo, shrinks significantly to become part of the newborn state of Oklahoma.

The political tensions are counterbalanced with Te Ata’s experience. Te Ata does her first performances among family, but chooses to leave home for the first time in her life to attend the Oklahoma College for Women (known today as University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma), despite her father’s wishes for her to find a job at home. Viewers immediately empathize with Te Ata’s awkward experience upon her arrival at the predominantly Caucasian-attended College, but cheer her on when that one connection is made, because all it ever takes is one.

Te Ata’s jumping off point occurs when she meets drama teacher Frances Dinsmore Davis, who encourages her to join her class and to share the Chickasaw stories for her senior presentation instead of the usual Shakespeare recitation. From there, Te Ata’s career blossoms from one serendipitous connection to another, taking her performances across the country. She eventually makes it to New York City, hustling to find her place on Broadway, and finds love in the process while performing privately for Eleanor Roosevelt, whose husband was then Governor of New York. The heroine’s journey continues with well-placed highs and lows, keeping the viewer visually and emotionally engaged.

Te Ata is touchingly channeled through lead actress Q’orianka Kilcher who, like Te Ata, has stage experience, and brought it to bear in the role. Kilcher’s magnetic singing, with the help of the film’s sweeping score and indigenous songs, imprints the true Te Ata’s passion for her people onto the viewer’s heart.

Frankowski, who worked closely with the Chickasaw Nation in creating the film, honors Te Ata’s memory and legacy in a cohesive, sweeping tale that will edify audiences everywhere.



Florida National News Editor Mellissa Thomas is an author and journalist, as well as a decorated U.S. Navy veteran with degrees in Entertainment Business and Film. She also helps business owners, CEOs, executives, and speakers double their income and clinch the credibility they deserve by walking them step by step through the process of developing, completing, marketing, and publishing their first book.

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