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July 2005


While we approach the latter half of the year, it's time to recognize some talent who we feel have been shining so far or will shine later this year with their production and acting roles in 2005. While most of the selected are not new to this business, blackfilm.com feels their work this year will put them on a bigger film platform than they have ever been on. In no particular order, we present the shining stars of 2005.


Terrence has been around for a good minute, and some of us have always known how talented he is, but this is the year when the world now pays attention. His lead performance in Sundance favorite and forthcoming film from Paramount Pictures “Hustle and Flow” is gaining critical acclaim. With other impressive performances in “Lackawanna Blues”, “Crash”, the indie film “Animal”, and the forthcoming “Four Brothers”, “My Life in Idlewild” and “Get Rich or Die Trying”, Howard is having a year like Jamie Foxx had the year before. Let’s hope the Academy can recognize an actor who’s having one great year.



Perry certainly shocked the Hollywood community when his small film, “Diary of a Mad Black Woman”, opened up as the number one film in American back in late February. Panned by mainstream critics nationwide, this film, made for $5 million, grossed a little over $22 million and ended up with about $50 million domestically. Currently on DVD, the film and Perry have taken the industry by storm. Lions Gate Films, which distributed the film, will also release Perry’s next film, “Madea’s Family Reunion”, which features Blair Underwood, Boris Kodjoe, Henry Simmons, and Lynn Whitfield.



There aren’t that many female directors that get films distributed nationwide, let alone 2 films in one year, but that’s exactly what Angela Robinson has done. Not only was her debut film, “D.E.B.S” released independently through Samuel Goldwyn Films, but her next film, “Herbie: Fully Loaded”, featuring Lindsay Lohan, was released through Disney.  This grad from Brown University has a vision that executives would like to see and in time we will see more of it.



Who says that rappers can’t act? Granted, not all rappers can gain Hollywood acceptance from jump, for it takes some time to fully development the craft. After his debut in “2 Fast 2 Furious”, Ludacris has quickly gotten into this game and most recently had impressive performances in “Crash” and “Hustle and Flow” this year. With his rapping career still blooming, Ludracris has another craft that will give more diversity.



Screenwriters aren’t really noticed in this business unless the film is a hit or when Oscar campaigns start, but Norman P. Vance has been writing for years, mostly for the small screen on such shows as “Moesha” and “Girlfriends”. This year alone, he made his film debut co-writing the script for the Queen Latifah film, ‘Beauty Show”, and wrote the screenplay for the upcoming film, “Roll Bounce”, starring Bow Wow. Having two films make it to the big screen in one year is a wonderful thing. Keep writing.



Black female producers seldom get attention, yet they are the brains behind a number of successful films and directors. While serving as an executive at Columbia, Stephanie Allain not only brought gave John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood) his first shot in this business, but also found another talent in Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi) and Darnell Martin (I Like It Like That). Since then she has produced the Sundance favorite and forthcoming film from Craig Brewer, “Hustle and Flow”. Her next two projects include another film from Brewer, “Black Snake Moan”, starring Samuel L. Jackson, and “Something New” from music video director Sanaa Hamri and starring Sanaa Lathan.



Hailed as the next Chris Tucker by Director Malcolm D. Lee, Brandon T. Jackson is simply hilarious in his role in the upcoming film, “Roll Bounce”, which stars Bow Wow. According to IMDB, by age 14, Brandon's career as a stand-up comic evolved from local school shows and community projects such as the Motor City Youth Festival to an appearance in Marc Cayce's film, Nikita Blues (2001). A 2005 national tour is currently in the works for his comedy show featuring other talented young comedians and musicians. This comedian from Detroit has a future on stage and on screen.



Taraji was first seen in John Singleton’s film, “Baby Boy”, and since then has racked up an impressive resume with roles on TV shows such “ER”, “Felicity” and “All of Us”. Currently on the TV drama “The Division”, Taraji will also be seen on the big screen along with Terrence Howard in “Hustle and Flow” and “Four Brothers”, and next year will be featured in the romantic comedy, “Something New”.



While winning many accolades with his music partner Big Boi on successful albums, Andre Benjamin was honing his chops to get ready for the acting business, and he came in blazing with an impressive performance in an episode on TV’s The Shield. Since then, he was funny as “Dabu” in “Be Cool” and he has been cast as one the brothers in John Singleton’s “Four Brothers”, along with Mark Walhberg, Tyrese Gibson, and Garrett Hedlund. Another film slated to come out this year is “My Life in Idlewild”. The film is a musical set in the Prohibition-era American South, where a speakeasy performer (Big Boi) and his piano player (Andre 3000) contend with gangsters who have their eyes on the club.



After playing many roles on TV shows and shortly after the Bernie Mac show was cancelled, Kellita Smith wasted no time trying to move on to the big screen. If you didn’t see her when she was cast in “Kingdom Come” a few years back, then you certainly saw her star along with MoNique in “Hair Show” and with Anthony Anderson in “King’s Ransom”. Coming this September, Smith will be playing the neighbor to Bow Wow and Chi McBride in “Roll Bounce”.



Faces of Tomorrow: Ones to Watch 2004

Faces to Tomorrow: Ones to Watch 2003



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