Celebrities Who Should Be Featured On Unsung’s Spin-Off, “Unsung Hollywood”
Good news! After so much success catching up with the underrated and often off-the-radar music stars in music with Unsung, TV One is about to bring us Unsung Hollywood. Same format, but giving us a back story on all the ups and downs of the careers and lives of black folks we love from TV and film. They already have episodes with Pam Grier, Kadeem Hardison and Robin Harris (to name a few) on deck, but we couldn’t help but throw a few options of stars they need to also profile out there. Check ’em out!
Talk about a beauty. Dorothy Dandridge was the first African-American woman to be nominated for an Academy Award, but the road to getting the nomination, and how life went for her after the fact wasn’t easy. Dandridge had the type of story that (if any of her colleagues are still alive to tell it) had everything from financial struggles (accountants swindled her out of thousands and she owed back taxes), nervous breakdowns, affairs, career explosions and moments that stalled, and the reinvention of her career later in life. She only lived 42 years, but her life and career has been one that has influenced everyone from Halle Berry, Cicely Tyson and more.
Vivica A. Fox
Viv was big time for a minute there. After she did Independence Day with Will Smith and Set It Off, she got her big break and it should have been smooth sailing from there. But has it been? Viv would have so much to talk about too, including her past relationships (what was that whole time with 50 Cent like?) and marriage, her hope to have children at almost 50, the ups and downs of her career, and maybe even her thoughts about the plastic surgery she had done in the past and if she regrets it now.
We all know Jaleel White as Steve Urkel because he was the biggest thing since sliced bread. But after his years of “Did I do that!?” the actor basically had bit roles or was nowhere to be found. I’m trying to find out what the years of trying to get back to normal life and having folks yell, “Hey, it’s Urkel!” at you on the street were like. To have one job from the age of 12 to the age of 22 and then be thrown back into everyday life had to be difficult, and it would be an interesting tale to share.
Zelda, girl, where did you go? Harris wasn’t in a great deal of movies and TV shows as a child, but when she was, she would always stick out in your mind and catch your attention. Crooklyn anyone? It has been more than 10 years since she graced a small or silver screen, and while I know she’s pretty young for Unsung (she’s now 28), I’d love to hear from her own mouth, what she’s been up to.
Antonio Fargas/Max Julien
Any other Blaxploitation fans in the house? If you are, I know you know a thing or two about Antonio Fargas and The Mack‘s Max Julien. I can recite quite a few lines from The Mack (“You ain’t no pimp. You a rest haven for hos.”), and who doesn’t know Huggy Bear? But aside from a few guest appearances on Martin and showing up in How To Be A Player, I’m trying to figure out what these guys have been up to, and what happened after their biggest roles came and went.
Karen Malina White
“Lance!” Karen Malina White was Charmaine on The Cosby Show and A Different World, Kaneesha in Lean on Me and Nicolette on Malcolm and Eddie (she also had an almost eight year relationship with Malcolm Jamal Warner by the way), and she was the voice of Dijonay on The Proud Family, but after 2005, White kind of went MIA. What happened? What happened with Malcolm Jamal Warner? And most importantly, what’s next for her? All things a good Unsung episode could help us figure out.
Since their days on Moesha and The Parkers, Mo’Nique has won an Academy Award while Countess Vaughn has done everything from Celebrity Fit Club to getting butt implants. I think she’d be a good feature for the show, because I’m trying to figure out why she never pursued a music career after doing TV? Her voice was EVERYTHING. And what about that past beef with Brandy? Vaughn has quite a few interesting stories we’d love for her to tell…
A successful career cut way too short and one that started back in ’91, Merlin Santana was everybody’s crush and a quite a talented young star in Hollywood. The actor was shot and killed at the age of 26, before he could really take his talents from The Steve Harvey Show on to something else. I’d like to know more about the details surrounding his murder from people who know him, and what people say he had planned for his career, as Santana reportedly had three unreleased albums he was working on and a film in the works with fellow Cosby Show kid, Deon Richmond.
This one is for my boss, who is a Eddie King, Jr. fan and wouldn’t let me include Leon without acknowledging Michael Wright. That’s Five Heartbeats fans for you. Damn near every person I knew back in the day loved Leon, and he kept steady work in the ’90s. And Michael Wright, aside from singing “Nights like this, I wish, raindrops would faaaaall!” did a few films here and there and was Omar White on Oz. But why haven’t they received the recognition we all thought they deserved back in the day? I’d like to find out their thoughts on that.
Whitley Gilbert was everything when Different World was on (but moreso after Lisa Bonet’s dull character of Denise ditched the show). She used that recognition to get screen time in Harlem Nights and guest spots on shows like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Melrose Place, but after all those years of being the go-to girl and fashionista on A Different World, you would think she would have had more film opportunities. What’s up with that? It would also be nice to know more about her friendship with 2Pac.
Imitation of Life actress Juanita Moore just passed at the age of 99, but the gifted actress had quite a few other roles in her life. She received an Academy Award nomination for her work in Imitation of Life in 1959, but after the fact, did Moore really receive the attention and recognition she deserved?
Wesley was everywhere in the ’90s: Spike Lee films, action movies, even romantic comedies (remember him in Waiting To Exhale?). He was gorgeous and a good actor, and he was Blade! But you know the story…Snipes started playing crazy with his taxes and wound up doing three years in prison. Yikes! If that’s not a story good enough for Unsung, I don’t know what is.
Whitfield has had a pretty lengthy career on TV, in film and even on stage. She received her biggest break playing Josephine Baker in The Josephine Baker Story, which she won an Emmy for, and has been in quite a few projects since. But as long as her storied career has been, there’s not a whole lot we know about Whitfield’s back story and her rise to fame. Lynn, inquiring minds want to know how you stay so flawless too!
C’mon. The 227 days and drama with Marla Gibbs. Being the first African American to win an Emmy for Best Supporting Actress. Her short-lived show Jackée. Her marriage to hairstylist Elgin Charles.
Jackée has always been an extremely interesting and colorful star to me, and I’d love for her to give us her two cents on all that has gone on in her career and her personal life. Talk about tea!