October 2001


The 2001 season has offered filmgoers a great opportunity to see many African-American stars flourish and 2002 will offer even more. During this year, we have observed many fine performances and we think it will be hard to disagree with the people we have chosen for this list. Now of course this list is not set in stone because new talent will come and current talent will whither away. So for now, take a look at who has the big projects. Who is hot? Who is the next it guy or girl? Of course, we aren't making the decisions but pay attention to these actors, actresses, writers and directors and you can determine for yourself.

1. VIN DIESEL (actor)
Who can forget Vin Diesel in SAVING PRIVATE RYAN or BOILER ROOM? But this summer’s FAST AND THE FURIOUS put Vin on the star map. There’s a sequel in the works and the athletic star will shine next opposite Dennis Hopper in KNOCKAROUND GUYS for New Line Cinema. Look for the January release.

2. GINA-PRINCE BYTHEWOOD (writer, director)
If you didn't see LOVE & BASKETBALL, that is completely your fault for missing the directorial debut of a fantastic storyteller. Prince-Bythewood's debut was undoubtedly one of the most brilliant films we have seen in some time. She followed that with HBO’s DISAPPEARING ACTS which hit chords with lovers worldwide. Keep an eye on Gina, maybe the best is yet to come.

3. JAMIE FOXX (actor, comedian)
He and LL had beef. BAIT was so-so but ANY GIVEN SUNDAY kicked it up a notch for Jamie Foxx. He will be doing his thing again in a new millennium version of A STAR IS BORN for Warner Bros. Following in the footsteps of Judy Garland and Barbara Streisand should offer Jamie an opportunity to spread his wings. Oliver Stone will direct. Well, that’s what we heard.

4. WILL SMITH (superstar actor, rap-artist)
Did you miss Will this summer? Not to worry, Will is making a strong comeback this holiday season with the starring role in the multi-mega biopic, ALI from Columbia Pictures, coming December 2001.

5. ICE CUBE (hip-hop pioneer, writer, director, actor)
The Don Mega, aka Ice Cube, capitalizing on the success of FRIDAY and next NEXT FRIDAY is currently scheduled to showcase in PIMP and STRAY DAWGZ, distributed by New Line Cinema.

It seem Amerikka’s Most Wanted has become a film & music pillar. Keep rollin.

6. Q-TIP (hip-hop artist, actor)
After dropping dope beats for years with Tribe Called Quest, flow-daddy Q-Tip has been bitten by the acting bug. He wet his feet in HBO’s DISAPPEARING ACTS. Tip will make his screen debut in PRISON SONG opposite Mary J. Blige.

7. GABRIELLE UNION (actress)
Seen in flicks like 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU and BRING IT ON, the lovely brown-skinned sista flipped some fabulous weave in BROTHERS and TWO CAN PLAY THAT GAME. She moves easily from TV to film and is definitely one to watch.

8. KWYN BADER (writer, director)
After landing Universal Studios to distribute his critically acclaimed film, LOVING JEZEBEL, we expect nothing but great things from Mr. Bader. We’ve heard through the grapevine that he’s working with a certain Brooklyn based film company. Hmmm….40 Acres perhaps?

9. SEAN COMBS (hip-hop mogul, entrepreneur)
He found Biggie-Smalls, founded Bad Boy Entertainment, and the very successful Sean John clothing line. Is there nothing this media mogul can’t do? According to the MAD-RAPPER, "Now the brother tryin to ack." YES, ack! Sean put it down in Artisan Entertainment's MADE opposite Jon Favreau, Vince Vaughn, Peter Falk and Famke Janssen and will appear next opposite Halle Berry in MONSTERS BALL. P-Diddy better represent or the critics will have his head. He held his own in MADE, now stay calm Sean and do your thing with Halle. We heard your role is small but remember, “there are no small roles, only small actors.”

10. THE WAYANS BROTHERS (actors, comedians)
Marlon Wayans and Sean Wayans really upped their comic value and marketability with SCARY MOVIE, a well positioned and intensely, zany film which has become the ALL-TIME BOX-OFFICE champ for Miramax. Oh yeah, SCARY also captured the highest Box-Office opening gross of an "R" rated film in the history of filmmaking.

11. ANTOINE FUQUA (director)
ANTOINE FUQUA may not be a household name as far as directors are concerned but check the brothers resume - THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS (Chow Yun Fat, Mira Sorvino), BAIT (Jamie Foxx) and TRAINING DAY starring Denzel Washington has been number one at the box office for 2 consecutive weeks. Stay tuned. This brother has only just begun.

12. DMX (hip-hop artists, actor)
From rappin to flyin - DMX, the undisputed hydro-flowin rap-vocalist, starred very notably opposite Steven Seagal in the Warner Bros. film EXIT WOUNDS. But he didn't stop there, DMX has anchored the lead role in Dimension Film's THE CROW. Will he fly?

Have you ever seen an actor or actress that made you laugh the minute they walked into a scene? Anthony Anderson is the man. He has starred and scored in ROMEO MUST DIE, ME, MYSELF and IRENE, KINGDOM COME, EXIT WOUNDS, and TWO CAN PLAY THAT GAME. The brother should be skinny as a rail after all that work! But there’s something to be said for eating well in Hollywood...

14. MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ & KARYN KUSAMA (actress & director)
GIRLFIGHT star Michelle Rodriguez and the film's director, Karyn Kusama are definitely two to watch. After winning prizes at 4 consecutive film festivals, the film, its actress and the director are in talks to do many things. You also may have seen Rodriguez opposite Vin Diesel in FAST AND THE FURIOUS and opposite Danny Glover in Spike Lee’s 3 A.M.

15. MAXIE COLLIER (director)
Digital filmmaking will eventually revolutionize a lot of aspects of the current filmmaking process. Max Collier is currently filming a documentary in digital format. The film, entitled, PAPER CHASERS, follows Collier and his seven-member production crew as they travel across the United States in a RV, interviewing hip-hop business owners and executives. This man gives new meaning to the phrase, ‘on the move’.

16. SANAA LATHAN (actress)
While she is still relatively fresh to the big screen, Sanaa Lathan didn’t need much exposure to steal every man's heart in LOVE & BASKETBALL. She followed that up by plucking every woman’s heart strings and memory chords in DISAPPEARING ACTS. Undoubtedly, she will be a force to reckon with.

17. MOS DEF (hip-hop artist, actor)
If you have had the pleasure of listening to his music or remember seeing him perform live on the defunct MTV' Lyricist, then you would know that MOS is for real. (Kellye is convinced that he single handedly saved hip-hop in 1999) Now he’s proved his mettle as a villian on MTV’s hip-hopera CARMEN JONES. Keep your eye on this cat and all of the RAWKUS RECORDS family.

18. MALCOLM LEE (writer, director)
In all things, the second time around is always tough. Ask any basketball player or tennis player about trying to defend a title and they will tell you how tough the journey is. For film directors, going to bat for the second time is especially tough and scary. Is Malcolm Lee up for the task? After delivering THE BEST MAN, which was one of the best films in a long, long time, LEE has set the bar pretty high for himself. Lucky for him his first film was well written so the task should not be hard so long as he writes with the same passion that scored THE BEST MAN. We can't wait to see another “Malcolm Lee Joint."

19. ERIC LANE (actor)
He played Tyco, the doomed AIDS victim to perfection in ONE WEEK, and we expect good things from the Chicago actor.

20. ALPHONZO WESSON (director)
TV commercials may be this filmmaker’s bread and butter, but the big screen’s taken a big chunk of his, er - pie. After absorbing numerous accolades for his emmy-winning short film, OPEN THE SKY, Wesson tackled Reality TV with MTV’s 11th season of Real World, and is looking to set the on-screen world ablaze with his new baby Zomotion Productions.

21. JEFFREY WRIGHT (actor)
After his hilarious & stunning performance as the mean Latino villain in SHAFT, Wright definitely turned heads and made people aware of the gifts that an actor must utilize to perfect his trade. Keep your radar on this native Washingtonian - he is just getting revved up!

22. NICOLE FRANKLIN (filmmaker)
This sista is a jack of all media trades! Actress, producer, director, writer and president of Epiphany, Inc. her documentary I WAS MADE TO LOVE HER caught the attention of BET, HBO and the Sundance channel among others. Her bio on actor Jamie Foxx will appear in BET’s fall biography series “Journeys In Black.”