Sharon Leal stars in 'Hell Cats'

*Sharon Leal (Dreamgirls, Why Did I Get Married?) has landed a leading role on the CW Network’s new series “Hellcats” as head coach Vanessa Lodge. The series premiered September 8, 2010 and will be a much needed “minority lead role” for the network.

“As a kid I was caught in the middle…I identified with African-Americans,” said actress Sharon Leal about her heritage, which is also Philippians. “Some people see it…some people say, really?”

Leal started singing at an early age and later discovered acting while attending a performing arts high school. Her career in entertainment began in theater in such productions as “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” Sharon reached Broadway appearing in musicals “Rent” and “Miss Saigon.”

“The gig for Miss Saigon I went with my hair pulled back real hard,” Sharon laughs about trying to show her Asian side. “There were like 600 and they picked two girls.”

Leal went from New York’s stage to television appearing in the Fox series “Boston Public” and guest starring roles in “Las Vegas” and “CSI: Miami.” In 2006 she received international attention by co-starring in the blockbuster film Dreamgirls as Michelle Morris – the singer that replaced Effie White.

The next year she starred in two box office hits Why Did I Get Married? and This Christmas. Her performance in This Christmas garnered a 2008 Asian Excellence Award for “Outstanding Film Actress.” That same year she starred with Samuel L. Jackson and Bernie Mac in the movie Soul Men.

This year Sharon Leal starred in Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married Too? and now she takes on the character of Vanessa Lodge in CW’s “Hellcats.” The Hellcats is a cheerleading team that is trying to win a championship, while the coach is trying to keep her job and balance a love/hate relationship with the football coach.

“In trying to figure her out…she‘s kind of a Debbie Allen character (“Fame”),” she said about her role. “They said it was going to be about cheerleading and I was like, ‘Cheerleading, well I don’t know’ But I went in… This role is about rallying up people.”

Sharon also admits that this is her largest speaking role. That, along with the fact that she is one of few minorities on a network that started out strictly for minorities, makes me stand in her honor and say, bravo Sharon it’s well deserved.

For more on CW’s “Hellcats” log onto http://www.cwtv.com/shows/hellcats and follow Sharon Leal at www.twitter.com/SharonLeal_.

Chris Brown and Michael Ealy in 'Takers'

Screen Gems’ Takers starring T.I., Idris Elba, Chris Brown, Hayden Christensen and Michael Ealy, hits theaters August 27, 2010

Screen Gems present Takers, a PG 13 film about a group of “successful” thieves played by Idris Elba (the leader), rapper T.I. (the smooth talker), Chris Brown (the runner), Hayden Christensen (the builder) and Michael Ealy (the gunman). Working against the clock on their last heist the group may have their hands full with a detective, played by Matt Dillon, who is determined to solve the case – along with his partner played by Jay Hernandez

I was to cover the red carpet arrivals of the movie premiere for Takers, held in Hollywood recently, but as the mob of security held the press and fans (at either end of the street) back, there was a mob (of publicists, assistants, managers and security) behind them on the red carpet – between us and the leader actors – which means I didn’t see much of anything.

Out of the crowd comes handsome Hayden Christensen (Star Wars), breaking past security to be interviewed by the press and of course just before he got to me security pulled him away. Suddenly Hayden pulls away again and “runs” over – pass the media – to the barriers to say hi to the fans that surrounded the red carpet area calling out the names of the leading men.

Then out of the blue I turn around and this sweet face is there saying, “Hi, I’m Kelvin Brown, I play the security guard in the bank.” Of course I wanted to know all about his role, which it seems, is a role to keep you guessing as to whether he is in on the heist or not.

“I am one of the guys that work in the bank,” actor Kelvin Brown said about his character. “Now because I work in the bank you’re going see what’s ‘gonna’ happen we’re going to see if I am a part of it or if I’m not a part of it.” When I asked how it was being on the set with all those heavy hitters, he admitted, “I had a great time. I love the Screen Gems family…I am glad to be a part of it.”

Takers also stars Zoe’ Saldana (as the gunman’s girl) and Paul Walker. For more on the Screen Gems film, Takers, log onto the website at www.WhoAreTakers.com.