All Articles Tagged "black actors"
We’ve all seen “The Wire” but there’s so much more to love about Idris Elba than his TV roles. Let’s take a moment to talk about Idris Elba and 15 things that we love about the man.
Whether it’s the big screen, the theater, radio or behind the scenes writing and directing, Samantha Beaulieu is a woman who loves all aspects of the entertainment industry and isn’t afraid to dive head first into the challenges of each one.
The New Orleans native grew up with a father who worked in entertainment at a local television show and in radio, and it wasn’t long before she too became attracted to the prospects of working in the industry.
“The job I love most is storytelling,” Beaulieu shares. “I enjoy writing. I get lost and come alive in acting. Directing energizes and challenges me, and I absolutely love being behind the camera, capturing the perfect shot, framed perfectly. I enjoy the editing process immensely. I love creating. Every aspect. And I love collaborating with smart, fearless people.”
Half radio host and half actor, Beaulieu has been in radio for two years and acting for 10. New Orleans residents have most likely experienced her high energy persona over the airwaves on “The Samantha Beaulieu Show,” which she hosts weekly on WBOK 1230 AM talk radio.
Movie fans will have recently seen her alongside Morgan Freeman and Jessie Eisenberg in Now You See Me, released earlier this summer for the Memorial Day weekend. In the movie Beaulieu plays an FBI agent working to track down four illusionists who use their act as a cover for robbing banks.
“I think I was chosen for my role in Now You See Me because it was my role,” Beaulieu said. “It was meant for me to have that part. That’s kind of my take on things. If it’s meant for me, it will be for me. And, of course, I was prepared.”
Perhaps it is this preparation that has set her apart in her career and has landed her a role in the upcoming Lifetime film Papa Noel, which comes out this holiday season.
“I was prepared and therefore made an impression on the director,” she said. “I immerse myself in every character. I’m 100% method. I have played everything from a down-and-out, drug-addicted single mother, to a Federal Agent, to English royalty. British accent and all. I love the transformation… becoming different characters.”
The New Orleans native splits her time between her hometown and Los Angeles, awaiting the opportunity for her next gig wherever it may be.
“The difficult part is not splitting my time between New Orleans and Los Angeles. That’s not hard to do at all,” she said. “Now talk to me about committing to one of the two cities… and now we got issues!”
Although Beaulieu loves her hometown and her family, her reason for staying in New Orleans wasn’t for family. The New Orleans entertainment scene, she says, is unique in that it offers a training ground for talented actors and actresses. While LA offers that feeling of always being on the verge of a “big break,” New Orleans is a place to hone one’s skills. And it has allowed Beaulieu to grow her film and television credits and “be a big fish in a small pond.” New Orleans has become, according to Beaulieu, a very transient city, for actors and entertainers.
“We never used to be that city where people moved,” she said. “People from New York and LA never used to move here. We moved there. Now, it’s the other way around.”
For Beaulieu, her hometown and training ground has served her well. Not only has she found her place in radio in New Orleans, she also won the Big Easy Award in 2010 and was a finalist at the NAACP Theater Awards festival in 2009. Beaulieu has also formed Be Nice Productions along with her sister and another co-founder. Going into business with her sister was a “no-brainer,” the two are excited for their first collaboration together.
But as Beaulieu continues to rise as an actress, she may choose to venture outside of New Orleans.
“I think change breeds opportunity,” she said. “There’s no place like home… However, I am very open to moving and relocating again, possibly New York. I would love to work on Broadway. Theater is truly an actor’s medium. The notion of being ‘bicoastal’ even appeals to me. I embrace change. New places, faces and environments stimulate me.”
As the optimistic actress looks forward to the changes in her careers, to all aspiring actors and actresses, she says, “Just do it!”
“Google ‘acting classes in Your City’ and go from there. Take classes. Read the paper for audition notices. Go to auditions. Work hard. Pray,” she says. “If you’re good, something good is bound to pop off for you! And be a person of your word. Your reputation is most important. Guard it.”
On Friday, we brought you the list of of summer movies you should get ready for. Cinephiles have a lot to look forward to!
Today, we have the list featuring the up-and-coming black actors and actresses you should get ready for. You may have heard of or vaguely remember seeing the selected black thespians on our list, but one thing is certain: you will notice more of their talents much sooner than you think.
May has arrived and you know what that means: summer is almost here! Once Memorial Day weekend hits, the start to family barbeques and trips to the beach with friends and lovers has arrived. If you’re like me, you are also gearing up for the summer blockbuster season of 2013. With an array of movies to choose from this summer season, here is a list of my top nine films that call for your undivided attention, featuring some of the most celebrated Black actors and actresses and those to watch.
After coming home from a long day of work sometimes all you want is to plop down on the couch and find something good to watch on TV. Well thank goodness prime time TV is booming with shows that intrigue us and actors and actresses that look like us. With acting that leaves you thirsting for more and silently cursing yourself if you’re away and failed to DVR the latest episode, these celebs are well worth your undivided attention.
Kerry Washington plays fierce crisis manager Olivia Pope in the political drama-series Scandal. As a former White House Communications Director for the president, it is difficult for her to shed her past – which includes a secret, steamy affair with President Fitzgerald. Washington’s character has a tight-knit relationship with each member of her new firm, having helped them with problems in their past – but it’s Pope who is ultimately struggling to deal with her own personal crisis.
AMC’s widely popular scripted series, Mad Men, has been receiving its share of criticism over the starring cast’s lack of diversity or as Shadow and Act’s Tambay A. Obenson calls it, “vanilla casting.” Actress Erika Alexander, who is known best for her role as Maxine on 90’s sitcom Living Single, recently took to her blog to let the public know that she has also taken note of the show’s failure to feature Black actors.
Prior to last night’s two-hour season premiere, Alexander shared a blog post titled, “Why I Wrote A ‘Mad Men’ Episode With Negroes,” expressing that although she is not a writer for the show, she’d love to see a more diverse cast on the AMC series. Towards the end of the essay, she provides a link where readers can check out the entire 45-page script. Her blog post in it’s entirety reads:
“Why did I write an episode of Mad Men with negroes? And by that I mean with “negro” characters in it, not with.. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Anyway, why did I write an episode of TV that I know will never be made? Though I work as an actress and have pitched and sold a television series or two in my time in Hollywood, I’m not a writer on Mad Men, so this episode won’t appear anywhere but here. Why, then? And why negroes? Aren’t we finished with all that? In honor of tonight’s Season 6 Premiere, let me tell you about it.
I like Mad Men. A lot. I like the subject matter – advertising; I like the cast – Don Draper is hot; I like the look – Hot Eames meets Op Art; I like the writing – Matthew Weiner is a storytelling beast. I love the writing.
I have only one issue with Mad Men (ok, with a bunch of shows, but let’s stick with this one): I’d love to see more diversity. I’m a black actress, so diversity is an issue that comes up for me. A lot. Mad Men, Game Of Thrones, Girls, Veep, these are cool shows, except for the fact that they would really rock with more people of color, series regulars or otherwise. I complain, wtf?.. and bemoan, WTF!.. but alas, for all my years in TV, I’m not able to make a difference in my own living room. Or am I?
I needed to find a different way to contribute to the conversation, to answer the constant refrain from show creators that they don’t want to just “shoehorn” black characters into their shows. Lena Dunham has said “Something I wanted to avoid was tokenism in casting”. Ok, don’t write in a token character, write five or ten great characters of color.
To be fair, Matthew Weiner has addressed this issue. “I do feel like I’m proud of the fact that I am not telling a wish fulfillment story of the real interaction of white America and black America… I’m very proud of the fact I’m not doing this guilty thing.”
Respectfully, I believe a storyteller has permission to imagine and create unusual situations in his or her fictional world to tell a larger truth. But I get it, race is complicated.
So, I decided to apply my creative powers to writing an episode of Mad Men. I tried to incorporate the “difficult other” organically into the storyline. For me, it was easy. Mad Men is set in New York City in the 60’s. Those times were all about race. It was the defining issue of the 20th Century. I was born in the mountains of Arizona, but as a writer I don’t have a hard time imagining black and white on Madison Avenue. My husband worked as a black art director in advertising agencies both mainstream and “black-oriented” and my father-in-law was a pioneering black executive in the 1960s. I merged the two and brought the mountain to Mohammed. My Don Draper goes Uptown and meets his match. The show already had good bones, I just put some dark meat on them.
Here it is. It’s called MAD-MEN-UPTOWN-SATURDAY-NIGHT (shout-out). The script won’t be made, but I hope to demonstrate that it can be done, and that iconic TV characters can play well with “others”.
Enjoy. Let’s keep the conversation going. Let me know your thoughts. Xx. e.”
What do you think of Erika’s decision to pen her own script? Did you peep the brotha she added to the show’s keyart?
We all know there’s Hollywood and then there’s black Hollywood. African American stars don’t get the same notoriety as their white counterparts despite their good looks, amazing acting chops and undeniable star power. Sad,right? From heartthrobs to veterans, these 15 thespians deserve the awards and accolades more than any other. Check out this list of black actors and actresses that should be leading in Hollywood.
Nia Long is beautiful. She is also the girl next door with a great deal of sass and sophistication. She lit our fire playing Nina in “Love Jones” and Bird in “Soul Food.” She’s been acting for quite some time and her staying power is phenomenal. Hollywood should take a deeper look.
Tags:Alfre Woodard, Angela Bassett, Back to Black, black actors, black actresses, Black Hollywood, Golden Brooks, Golden Tichina Arnold, Hollywood, Jill Marie Jones, larenz tate, leading african american actors, lela rochon, Maia Campell, Mekhi Phifer, michael beach, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Omar Epps, Persia WhiteGirlfriends, Raven SymoneKhalil Kain, Tatyana Ali, tracee ellis ross
Olivia Pope And The Depiction Of Multifaceted Womanhood: Why We Love Kerry Washington And Her Honest Portrayals Of Women
I haven’t heard this much criticism of a television character… ever. Kerry Washington’s role in the hit prime time drama Scandal as Olivia Pope, the boss yet internally conflicted “fixer”/mistress to the President of the United States has EVERYONE talking. And when I say “everyone” I do mean everyone. On Thursday nights at 10 pm EST, my Twitter timeline is rockin’ with Scandal hashtags by family, friends, politicians, athletes and actors alike, raving about the twists, the turns, the brilliant writing, the fashion, the flashbacks, the very different funky 70s soundtrack… Every aspect of the show seems to be something of a phenomenon, especially since it’s the first primetime drama with a black female lead role on a major network in years. Some of us see progression in that. Some of us see off-the-charts talent and entertainment.
Still, the show has its vehement critics. Those not unlike CBS, Atlanta reporter Mo Ivory who breaks down Washington’s role as “no different than Joseline from “Love & Hip Hop Atlanta” or Kim from “Real Housewives of Atlanta” – she just has more expensive clothes, a higher paying job and tighter security.”
I don’t agree or disagree with Ivory’s thoughts. I’ve been so focused on Washington’s accurate portrayal (no matter how messy) of just a WOMAN in general that I haven’t had the time to bust down a list of the horrible characteristics.
I watch Kerry beast through her performance as Olivia Pope every week and think to myself that I have NEVER seen such a consistent powerhouse performance in primetime, week after week. As Pope, Washington peels back the layers of a very human woman who can clean up anyone’s, EVERYONE’S mistakes and hiccups around her but is just barely holding together the steadily unfolding mess that is her own life. I don’t see a black woman who is a mistress when I watch Olivia Pope. I see a woman in general who has issues just like the rest of the world and is trying to get clarity and peace of mind in the midst of a crap storm of confrontation and seemingly buried secrets. Kerry Washington executes the human-ness of the role flawlessly. That’s what I’m tuned in for.
Is she playing a mistress? Yes. I know, I know. That sets black women back hundreds of years and blah blah blah. I don’t agree with all that simply because for years, blacks have had to fight with screenwriters and directors and producers to allow us to be human beings on screen. Not caricatures. Not trumped up stereotypes. Not ALWAYS Mammys and drivers or harlots and drug dealers. Just everyday, normal human beings, whatever that entails. For this particular role, Kerry Washington unfolds a woman’s struggle with loving someone she cannot wholly have, being strong for everyone else all the time, working almost ‘round the clock, trying to cover past mistakes with present goodwill. Who of us haven’t dealt with at least one of the above?! She plays a human being, people! She shows the multi-faceted womanhood that many of us try to deny by criticizing roles like this or even everyday people like this.
About a month or so ago during her interview with Oprah, Washington drew parallels between Olivia Pope and her character of “Broomhilda,” a slave woman in the deep south spaghetti western Django Unchained, which opened as a box office hit with very mixed reviews. She expressed that her goal as an actress is simply to honor humanity by telling these stories in as real a way as possible. Washington also stated that she felt honored to play both roles because it showed how far we had come as a nation. Her ability to be able to play such a multi-layered character like Olivia Pope essentially was an answer to her character Broomhilda’s prayers that one day that kind of freedom would be possible for a black woman. She talked about the timeline of black acting, citing that in the beginning, everything was stereotypical if you wanted to be a black actor. Then, there was the era of “black perfection” where all roles taken on by black actors had to be pristine, no flaws. Now, we live in an age where we are beginning to be allowed to simply be human. Flaws and all.
That idea struck a chord with me as I reviewed Washington’s body of work from Save The Last Dance to Django. She has always chosen roles that some might say have made black folks “look bad,” yet they offered an honest look into the lives of honest characters. And what is a serious actor if not an honest vessel?
During her acceptance speech at the 2012 Black Girls ROCK! event, Washington said, “I get to honor humanity. We are all valuable human beings and all our stories deserve to be told.”
We, as freethinking human beings need to stop being so quick to judge the black artist. What Kerry Washington and Viola Davis and countless other black actresses are doing is monumental if we change our outlook. We cannot whittle down the idea of black art only to what makes us feel comfortable. Was Viola Davis’s role as a 1960s maid too painful a memory for some of us? Is Olivia’s role as a mistress (no matter how classy and fierce) too telling of many a modern day reality for some of us? I see Washington as a brave soul for pushing through and bringing a truth to television that has long been airbrushed to ease internal tensions. I see Washington as an example of the versatility black women have not been allowed to exhibit for so long. The honesty we have not been able to speak on or to portray without feeling some sort of way. I celebrate her courage to honor humanity even in the face of such opposition. If we’re more fixated on the flaws of the character rather than the honesty those flaws bring to entertainment, perhaps we need to do a bit more soul-searching and a little less judging.
La Truly is a late-blooming Aries whose writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Check out her blog: www.hersoulinc.com and Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.
Good news for New York thespians. According to a new report, minority actors are finding more and more jobs on Broadway. The percentage of minority actors working on the Great White Way and at the top 16 not-for-profit theater companies in New York City rose to 23 percent during the 2011-2012 season, reports The Grio. Still, even with the boost in numbers, white actors on Broadway continue to be over-represented.
Here’s the breakdown: African-American actors were cast in 16 percent of all roles, Hispanics in three percent and Asian-American actors in three percent, found The Asian American Performers Action Coalition in its annual report on ethnic representation on New York stages. Yet Caucasians filled 77 percent of all roles.
“Black actors increased their representation by 2 percent compared to last season, while Hispanics stayed the same as last season, and Asian-Americans saw their numbers tick up by 1 percent,” writes The Grio.
Although the growth has been slow, there has long been an African-Amerian presence on the Great White Way. In 1903 the first Broadway musical written by African Americans, and the first to star African Americans, In Dahomey, hit theaters. Vinnette Justine Carroll (Don’t Bother Me, I Can’t Cope) in 1972 became the first African-American woman Broadway director. And Phylicia Rashad became the first African American to win Broadway theater’s Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play in 2004 for her performance in “A Raisin in the Sun.”
According to a number of West African publications including Ghana Vibe, Academy Award-winning actor and top on the list of everybody’s favorite black actor Denzel Washington, is in Nigeria for the filming of his first Nollywood film.
There is not much more information about the alleged film, particularly what it is about. However the reports all say that the film is called Spider Basket and that is is supposedly co-funded by Nigerian businessman Dennis Osadebe, who is quoted in saying, “Denzel is just one of many Hollywood stars that I want to witness the talents in this country and to impact significantly on Nollywood. Others are coming.”
Don’t know if this is genuine or just some wishful thinking, which has spun out of control on the internet; however the idea of a major black, Hollywood star, particularly one of Washington’s caliber, signing up for a film produced out of Nollywood, makes me extremely excited. Something like that could progressively pave the way for more trans-Atlantic collaborations between blacks on different continents. It would be like a Marcus Garvey dream realized – at least on film.
Okay, I might be exaggerating a bit, however there does appear to be a number of American, black actors seeking work in Africa. And I’m not just talking about mainstream, or even independent, Hollywood Out-of-Africa films, which might feature a American black actor and is largely conceived out of the fantasies of white directors. I’m talking about films, conceived and written from the minds of black folks.
Like Isiah Washington, who has virtually disappeared from Hollywood after being fired from his hit television “Grey’s Anatomy” for calling his former cast mate a gay slur. Last year Washington starred in the Nigerian film Dr. Bello, a story about a American black doctor, who goes to Nigeria on the hunt of a special African potion that will cure cancer, and could help save his medical career and an African doctor from prison. The film, which also stars Haitian-born actor Jimmy Jean Louis and A-list Nigerian actresses Genevieve Nnaji and Stephanie Okereke, was written and directed by Tony Abulu, a Nigerian-raised founder of Black Ivory Communication, who has a history of taking Pan-Africanism approach into his film making. According to his bio, his previous film Back to Africa, also joined together an American cast and crew with their Nigerian counterparts. According to a recent article in the New York Times, Washington said, “…he signed on in part because he was drawn to the opportunity to “cross-pollinate” Hollywood and Nollywood.”
Vivica Fox, who is staring opposite of Washington in Dr. Bello, has also appeared in other black African-produced cinema, most recently Jeta Amata’s Black Gold and Niyi Towolawi’s Turning Point, a film, which also giving new life to mostly forgotten about American black actors Ernie Hudson (Ghost Busters) and Todd Bridges (“Different Strokes”). Nollywood has also provide opportunities for current working actors, whose success in Hollywood has yet to reach household name status. Such is the case for Gbenga Akinnagbe, a American actor born to Nigerian parents and most known for playing Chris Partlow on the television show “The Wire.” He was able to not only star but produce his very own crime drama in Nigeria called “Render to Caesar.” According to publish reports, Akinnagbe was able to secure funding for his project from former Nigerian banker.
Depending on whom you ask, Nigeria’s Nollywood is either the second or third largest film industry in the world. What is certain though, is that Nollywood is definitely holding its own with Hollywood and the Indian counterpart Bollywood, producing over 2,000 films annually and generating profits into the hundred of millions. According to an article last year in Black Enterprise:
“Similar to model used by African-American filmmaker Tyler Perry in the states, the films are typically produced at a very modest budget and yield a high return. With an average production rate of $15,000, Nollywood films often yield up to 10 times that amount in return. Nollywood filmmakers—eager to use Black American talent in order to broaden their international appeal—say that while the actors might not be able to demand the same paycheck as actors like Denzel Washington would for “Safe House” or Viola Davis would for “The Help,” the sky’s the limit on the types of stories they can tell.”
The pie in the sky is not also limited to story telling as Nollywood’s ever-expanding distribution network. Last year’s launch of a streaming-video library called iROKOtv, helped bring African cinema to new audiences across the African Diaspora, particularly in the UK, Caribbean and America markets. Likewise, a recent report suggests that the global popularity of the Nigerian film industry will be a major growth driver, with an expected compound annual growth of 3 percent in the country’s leisure sector. With that said, Nollywood is still a work in progress and more often then not, Nollywood films are plagued by poor story development, shoddy audio and technical error. However it’s continued growth over the years – not just in dollars but in actual film production – also proves that the industry has longevity and is able to stand on its own, outside of Hollywood’s power and authority.
The latter is extremely important, especially when considering solutions to the difficulty that black writers, directors and actors in the West face in terms of finding work or getting a project financed and backed through Hollywood. Not to mention the continued debates which spawn from the representation of black folks in films like Django Unchained and the soon to be released Nina Simone biopic. Nollywood might not be perfect but it should also be thought of as another viable avenue for blacks in the film industry to validate our own.