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In the wake of a petition circulating to have Jesse Williams fired from Grey’s Anatomy, many of his celebrity friends and colleagues are speaking out, and sharing their support. HipHollywood caught up with guests during the 2016 Essence Festival in New Orleans, and got their thoughts on Williams’ powerful BET Awards acceptance speech, and how it has motivated them.

“It’s starting conversation, which is what it’s supposed to do,” said Jordin Sparks. “He took that moment of recognition, and turned it around, and said hey come on guys, we have to start the conversation, before action can get started.”

“It was so powerful, it was so needed, it was so on time,” added Lance Gross. “Jesse is a friend of mine, and I was watching and rooting for him.”

“Jesse’s speech at the BET Awards is exactly what I believe artists are supposed to do,” said Malik Yoba, who has been very vocal throughout his career about social injustices and racial issues. “And Robeson said it the best, artists are the gatekeepers of the truth.”

Hit the Floor star, Rob Riley, who along with Yoba can be seen in the TV One original film Bad Dad Rehab, said while he supports Williams, he’s not surprised by the backlash that he has gotten.

“Anytime you stand for what you believe in there are going to be consequences,” added Riley. “When you are trying t do something great, and bring people together, there are going to be people there to tear you down.”


Watch: Halle Berry Issues Whiskey Challenge During ‘Kingsman’ Interview



Halle Berry proved she could hang with the fellas when she downed a glass of whiskey at Comic Con alongside her Kingsman: The Golden Circle co-stars. But don’t expect her to do that again.

“No more, no more,” she said after hilariously bolting from the room when we asked her if she’d drink another glass. “I will never [do it again], and no one lets me live down the fact that I did it either.”

According to Berry she was ill for three days after, but that didn’t stop her and Pedro Pascal from daring me to throw back a glass right before our interview.

Not one to turn down a challenge, I did it, and received a round of applause and high fives before preceding to discuss the duo’s roles and why they decided to join the cast of Kingsman.

“Matthew Vaughn’s version of these movies always interested me” explained Berry who is no stranger to spy flicks after starring in the James Bond film Die Another Day. “I was apart of the Bond series and I feel like this is similar but it’s also for the new generation.”

She continued, “Some of the elements are the same but I call it spy thriller 2.0, he takes it to the next level that no one else does right now.”

In the film Berry, Pascal, Jeff Bridges and Channing Tatum play members of the Statesmen – a U.S. Spy agency operating out of a Kentucky Bourbon distillery. Pascal told us he gained a newfound appreciation for men in suits, but still prefers his jeans.

“I play agent whiskey. I’m a southern gentlemen so I’m a little more buttoned up … I’m like the stateside version of those square pegs from across the pond,” he joked.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle hits theaters September 22.

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