Celebs come out for sneak preview of ASPiRE’s new talk show Exhale

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ATLANTA – Stars turned out in full force yesterday night for the premiere of ASPiRE’s first original television series.

The likes of Terri J. Vaughn, Avery Sunshine and the cast of Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse graced the red carpet at Woodruff Arts Center for the launch of Exhale.

The weekly hour-long talk show, co-hosted by Angela Burt-Murray, Erin Jackson, Issa Rae, Rene Syler and Malinda Williams, premieres on Magic Johnson’s Atlanta-based cable television network tonight.

Actress Malinda Williams, who is best known for her role in the Showtime acclaimed drama series Soul Food, told theGrio that “viewers get the opportunity to be a fly on the wall” and privy to “candid conversations between sistas.”

‘Unique and fresh approach’

TV-anchor-turned-author Syler describes the series as “a very unique and fresh approach to issues that pertain to black women” and up-and-coming writer and actress Rae says she is excited to be working on a project with “amazing role models.”

Speaking to theGrio at the reception prior to the screening, former Editor-in-Chief of Essence magazine Angela Burt-Murray said unlike the portrayal of black women in reality TV shows, Exhale demonstrates that women of color are capable of having mature and respectful conversations.

“Black women can come together and have a conversation that doesn’t have to dissolve into throwing drinks or flinging tables,” says Burt-Murray. “We can respect each other’s opinions and disagree and still be friends at the end of the day.”

In an intimate television format the five co-hosts talk candidly about a range of topics affecting black American women in a comfy living room setting. Each episode deals with one specific topic, helped by a selection of hand-picked special guests.

The five women from different generations, fields and backgrounds are surprisingly honest about a range of issues from relationships to juggling careers and managing finances.

Following the screening in a Q & A with moderator Pearl Cleage, actress Malinda Williams told the audience she wouldn’t have signed up if she wasn’t willing to be honest. “When I got the call I made a split-second decision about whether I’d be open or not.”

Dating, marriage and divorce discussed

In the first show in the eight-episode series, the hosts talk openly about everything from dating and marriage to divorce. They ask tough questions about why so many black women are single, the signs of a toxic relationship and the secrets of a match made in heaven. Actress Tichina Arnold, celebrity matchmaker Jasmine Diaz and host of Divorce Court Judge Lynn Toler are just some of the guests who join the cast.

“It was a show we stated talking about before ASPiRE was launched,” said ASPiRE General Manager Paul Butler at last night’s launch on the on the eve of the network’s one-year anniversary. “We wanted to develop a series that reflected the beauty and breadth of African-American women. It’s an opportunity to lead a conversation that[‘s] important to African-American families.”

“Exhale is a show that features five amazing hosts, who will open up and talk about everything that is on the minds of women today,” says executive producer Lynne Robinson of Black Robin Media. “In each episode, they share intimate, spirited and honest dialogue to make you laugh and sometimes make you cry. We are thrilled to bring these provocative, enlightening conversations with these dynamic women in a compelling new series to life on ASPiRE.”

ASPiRE launched on June 27, 2012 as a part of the deal struck between Comcast and NBC Universal and targets African-Americans. The network, which is backed by Magic Johnson, is available in about 15 million households.

Exhale debuts at 8 p.m. EST Thursday, June 27 2013

Follow Kunbi Tinuoye on Twitter at @Kunbiti