*”People who know me, know I go at it hard. I got a big mouth and big heart,” says up-and-coming actor Nicoye Banks.
His smile can melt steel. His gaze alone can cause a flame to stop flickering. He has a politician’s personality and is eye candy of the dark chocolate variety.
Good looks, talent and charisma–that’s the stuff leading men are made of, qualities that are naturally imbued in this actor who was bred in New Orleans community theater. Fondness of entertainment legends like the Nicholas Brothers and Sammie Davis Jr. and acting greats Sidney Poitier and Denzel Washington influenced his hyper-versatile range as a stage and film performer.
Recently, Banks had a turn in his career of such rarity that only the likes of Samuel L. Jackson can relate. He co-starred in two major motion pictures that premiered back-to-back: Green Zone (starring Matt Damon, directed by Paul Gray Grass) and Brooklyn’s Finest (starring Richard Gear, Don Cheadle, Wesley Snipes, directed by Antoine Fuqua. Soon enough movie-goers will be coming to see him.
Behind Banks’ puppy dog eyes is bull-dog like ambition and an awareness that in Hollywood timing is everything. He didn’t allow his dream to be chained to a city where bottle cap tappers dance to be discovered but get no farther than the street corners on which their feet make music.
Heeding the advice of Tommye Myrick (Director of theater at Southern University of New Orleans) the would-be attorney packed his passion and migrated to the neon lights on Broadway to study under the direction of Myrick’s mentor, the late Gene Frankel. He left behind his only sister and a single mom he was hell-bent on making proud. New York City was just as saturated with dreamers, but Banks knew with proper preparation he would have a fighting chance at making it.
Now is his time and he’s determined not to miss a thing.
It was his ride-or die mentality that helped the thespian swipe the part from someone else in Faqua’s cop flick.
He was returning from London after wrapping his part in Green Zone when he found out the role he wanted in ‘Finest’ was taken.
“I get back to the states and I’m in the parking lot of the airport and call my manager to let her know I made it and she goes, ‘That’s great, but on the flip side, guess what? They cast the part yesterday.’ I told her call them back, we gotta fight, so she did. . .”
After one read, Banks recounts, “Mr. Faqua said ‘See you at rehearsal Slim,'” which could have been a reference to his lean frame, but was confirmation that he’d landed the role of Slim.
Banks said working with A-listers like Damon and Gray Grass was a privilege, adding “You’re in such rare air space your ears don’t pop and you know you’re levitating.” As a unit leader in Green Zone he shared scenes with Damon.
Co-starring with numerous leading men in ‘Finest’ equally impressed him.
“It’s like playing with the Harlem Globetrotters and you watched them when you were growing up and now you’re playing with them.” Not only that but he was thrilled to observe Fuqua in action. “He was definitely one of the directors I wanted to work with and study.”
The priceless lesson he learned from the director was to “be a 150% prepared, but in your presentation be lucid enough to go wherever the action is going that shows you’ve come to play you’ve come to be taken seriously, not led . . .”
Currently residing in New York City, the former restaurant worker’s acting career has been fifteen years in the making. The affable father of 9-year-old Jaden, along the way his past on-screen roles have included co-starring in the 2005 release of “G” as the flamboyant rap artist “B. Mo Smoov” along-side Blair Underwood and Richard T. Jones. In 2006, Nicoye co-starred in the Walt Disney Pictures blockbuster movie, Invincible with Mark Walhberg. He has also secured recurring roles on ABC’s One Life to Live as physical therapist Dr. Grey and NBC’s Law & Order.
In 2009, Banks ventured back to his roots of performance theatre playing the role of Sweet in the critically acclaimed play, The High Priestess of Dark Alley”, at the legendary Billie Holliday Theatre, in New York.
After paying his dues it was just a matter of time before his moment to shine would arrive. Next Banks will take the lead in the upcoming Michael Vick Story and in the indie film Spare Change.