Martin Lawrence

*Martin Lawrence has been making people laugh for nearly two decades. From stand-up, television and film, Lawrence’s mix of physical and improvisational humor has earned him a universal following and a top spot at the box office.

He’s currently starring alongside fellow comics Chris Rock and Tracey Morgan in a remake of the British dark comedy, Death At A Funeral, (opening Friday, April 16th). Later this year, he will again reprise one of his most popular characters in a third installment of the Big Momma’s House franchise.

Gil Robertson recently spoke with the actor/comedian as he prepared for his movie premiere to talk about his current projects.

Martin, what was it like working with Chris Rock and Tracey Morgan? 

“We tried to make each other laugh. Every comic loves to make another comic laugh. If they say they don’t, then they’re lying. But it’s all in fun. I’m at a stage in my career that I don’t vie for position. I don’t feel like I got to compete to prove myself.”

After doing Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, what made you want to do another ensemble comedy?

Martin Lawrence: “Well, my man Chris Rock gave me a call personally and sent me the British version, which I thought was very funny. When he told me that I would be playing his brother, I knew that I wanted to be on board.’ Me and Chris we see each other probably every year and we’ve always talked about working together. He came on the Martin show; I went on his show on HBO. We just finally got a chance to really do a movie together and it’s because he put it together, so I’ve got to give my man the credit for that.”

Does it surprise you feel that some many of your peers were drawn to this film for the opportunity to work with you?

Martin Lawrence: “It makes me feel good. For your peers to respect what you do and believe in what you can bring to a project makes me feel good. It puts pressure on me to deliver, but I’ve been doing that my whole career, so I look forward to it. I’m very appreciative and thankful to have been a part of this film.”

Would you ever consider a return to series television?

Martin Lawrence: I would never say never but right now I’m really enjoying doing films. I just love doing films and standup so I’d just rather concentrate on that but never say never. My production company has a new project called “Love That Girl,” that’s coming on TV One so make sure you check it out.

What kind of projects are you looking to produce or star in next?

Martin Lawrence: I’m looking for the next big thing. I’m interested in producing anything that’s good, anything that brings the money, but a lot of things that I’m reading just don’t feel worth putting my name on. I’m not going to produce something just for the sake of producing. I meet so many producers in this game and all that and so many people are just faking the funk. They’re not even delivering. They just want the title so they can walk around Hollywood to get into parties. I want to produce really good movies that that I believe in and have the potential to be successful. I’ve got another Big Momma coming next, and after that Jaime Foxx and I are doing a movie. “Sheneneh and Wanda,” was not a hoax. We’ll be getting together to do that real soon.  – Gil Robertson IV

BEST BETS: THEATRE

Black Angels Over Tuskegee

A recent Sunday afternoon was transformed from “mundane” to “mesmerizing”! However, this was not the result of some mystical magic fete, but rather the result of the undeniable talent of Layon Gray, writer and director of the inspiring and exhilarating historical journey which is told in his latest theatrical masterpiece, “Black Angels Over Tuskegee”.

The play details the remarkable evolution of six young African American men who although diverse in their personalities, are inextricable linked in their purpose to join The United States Army’s Air Force Division in the hopes of becoming Fighter Pilots during World War II. However, the play chronicles much more than the aspirations of six unique young African American men. It affords the audience a memorable opportunity to delve into the mind, spirit, character and “soul” of individuals who, despite their differences, are transformed into a “military family” of Black Angels. As the title communicates, their unit is based out of one of the south’s most historical and culturally enriched Black enclaves, Tuskegee, Alabama.

Mirroring one of the south’s cultural and artistic traditions Layon Gray masterfully weaves, what at the outset of the play, may appear to be individual pieces of fabric into a beautifully connected quilt. He creates a mosaic which warms the spirit as well as protects the lives of each member the unit which evolves into The Tuskegee Airmen.

Bringing Layon’s words to life and an important segment of  America’s history in general, and African American history specifically, to the forefront are six phenomenal actors: Antonio D. Charity who serves as the narrator and “The Tuskegee Airmen” portrayed by Thom Scott, II, Lamman Rucker, David Wendell Boykins, Demetrius Gross, Derek Shaun and the author himself, Layon Gray.

The play is enjoying an extended run (through April 25th) in New York City, Off Broadway, at St.Lukes Theatre located at 308 West 46th Street. I assure you that regardless of the day you attend, it will transform your day from mundane to mesmerizing as it educates and inspires you as you salute and celebrate “The Black Angels Over Tuskegee”- The Tuskegee Airmen. – Lauvia Sherman

AUTOMOTIVE SPIN

2009 Hyundai Elantra SE PZEV

With its sleek new look and technological upgrades, Hyundai’s new Elantra SE more than lives up to the competitors in its class. With a touch of sophistication, it is an extremely reliable car that is certain to draw fans from a cross section of driving demos.

Wow Factor:  The Elantra’s elegant exterior styling’s are bolstered its solid performance on various road conditions and its outstanding long warranty, which is five years or 60,000 miles overall and 10/100,000 for the powertrain that’s even better than some luxury brands.

Ride:  Confident on the road, the Elantra is outfitted with a 2-liter, four-cylinder engine that is rated 138 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 137 pounds-feet of torque at 4,600 rpm, which is complimented by a five-speed manual transmission. Its snug size offers additional value on the road by enabling drivers to move in and out of busy traffic conditions with ease.

Comfort:  Although the Elantra takes up the road space of a compact, it offers the passenger room of a midsize vehicle. Add to that its generous cargo area that provides amble room for transporting loads.

Spin Control:  The Hyundai Elantra will offer drivers from various demos a great return on their investment. With solid on-the- road performance, accessible controls and a healthy MPG (25 city/33 hwy), the Elantra is more than good deal for the money (price tag starts at $15,000).  Do yourself a favor and seriously consider this supremely reliable ride.

Grade: B+

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