"It’s going to be a major task but I think we can make magic," said Sommore.
In one of those only at Essence Fest moments, comedian Sommore and singer Lalah Hathaway laughed and talked like old friends backstage in the Verizon SuperLounge.
Sommore, 49, emceed in the lounge a couple of times and Hathaway did the rounds, performing at various places, including the convention center, all weekend long. But on this particular Sunday night, they were just two women enjoying a lively conversation. The New Jersey native, who had a fabulous time experiencing her first Essence Fest this year, said her quality time with Hathaway was just one of the many high points. She also discussed her plans to produce a new comedy tour performed primarily in women’s prisons.
What’s been your favorite moment at Essence Fest?
Do you know I just was standing there talking to Lalah Hathaway? Not only a hello, but a deep conversation. That is what Essence Fest is all about – Black love. Artists connecting, people connecting, performers connecting with our fans. It has just been amazing. This is my first year. Oh my God. Twenty one years? How did y’all do this without me? This is my first year and it has been nothing short of fantastic. It started for me on the plane ride. Eighty percent of the people on the plane were coming here for Essence Fest. It was a party. It was like Soul Plane all over again. Now that I’m here, I party at night and sleep during the day. I’ve been a vampire.
The crowd really responded well to you. Did that make you feel welcome?
The crowds have been amazing. I was shocked. You know this is my first year so I was like, “How is this going to work? They’ve got a big concert and some small concerts.” I thought it wouldn’t work. But it has been just a really unique presentation. Meeting people like Raheem DeVaughn, Lalah, Omarion, Ledisi—I feel blessed.
What do you think about the Black actor and actress renaissance on TV?
I love it. I’m addicted to Empire. I am all about Black entertainment all day long. I love seeing Black people doing well. I’m not afraid of Black people. I’ve seen nothing but Black love here. I love it.
What are you working on next?
I’m working on a project called The Queens of Comedy: Beyond Bars. I want people to look out for that. It’s going to be an awesome project and a nine-week series instead of a comedy special. We haven’t shot it yet so we don’t know what network yet or which women’s prisons.
What made you want to take comedy to women’s prisons?
It’s a concept that we came up with years ago. But it’s time to do something with women. I’m producing it with Walter Latham (The Original Kings of Comedy). We also want to do a documentary about the women in maximum security prisons who are on their way to be paroled. We’re going to take all women stand-up comedians and tie our comedy to their stories. It’s going to be a major task but I think we can make magic.
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