*While Hollywood still has a long way to go in terms of fully representing the rich diversity of American life, inroads are being made by the steady stream of talented, pretty, and yes, ethnic hopefuls who descend upon the city each year with stars in their eyes.
According to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), actors of color were featured in 30% of the available acting jobs in film and television over the past 5 years. However, with Hollywood’s increased attention to the growing multicultural audience and global markets, the numbers are expected to rise, which is a good harbinger for tomorrow’s actors of color.
The African American Film Critics Association consulted with leading industry professionals, to identify some of the young, exciting talent to watch in 2011. These are talented actors who have built significant fan bases and are stars ready to carry their own projects and be franchise players.
1. Tatyana Ali
Projects: The Brothers, Glory Road, Nora’s Hair Salon
Outlook: Although she’s best known for her role as Ashley Banks on the long-running hit show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Ali has grown into one of the most-independent leading ladies in the industry by creating projects and roles for herself in film and TV.
Currently: Ali is one of the co-stars (and producers) of the Image Award-nominated sitcom, Love That Girl, which started on the internet, spread virally and earned its way onto the television where it became an instant primetime success and created a horizon-shifting business model for TV One. Besides her return to primetime, Tatyana has also moved into daytime TV with a recurring role on the long-running soap, The Young and the Restless.
Upcoming: With her own production company, HazaraH Entertainment, always humming, plus two more independent productions coming out in 2011 (“The Misguided Adventures of Dating in Hollywood” and “Dysfunctional Friends”), we’re looking forward to Hollywood finally catching up with this constantly working, entrepreneurial, stunningly beautiful Harvard grad.
2. Mehcad Brooks
Projects: Glory Road, In the Valley of Elah, Desperate Housewives, Just Wright
Outlook: With his leading-man good looks, Brooks is a charismatic presence on both film and television. The son of influential editorialist Alberta Phillips, Brooks is an alumnus of the USC School of Cinema-Television.
Currently: Following a career path traveled by Mark Wahlberg, Ashton Kutcher and Djimon Hounsou, Mehcad is currently appearing in high-profile ads modeling Calvin Klein underwear.
Upcoming: With upcoming roles in Fencewalker and Necessary Roughness, this Austin native has embraced the independent approach to filmmaking, creating more opportunities for his rising star to continue to shine.
3. Rob Brown
Projects: Finding Forrester, Coach Carter, The Express
Outlook: This prodigious actor made his acting debut at age 16, playing the lead role in a major motion picture (Finding Forrester), with no previous formal training – not even so much as an acting class. The introspective Amherst graduate is definitely making all the right moves.
Currently: Can be seen on the hit HBO series Treme.
Upcoming: Widely known for the thoughtful approach to acting roles, Brown and his team are currently reviewing scripts for his next big-screen opportunity.
4. Nelsan Ellis
Projects: The Express, True Blood, Secretariat,
Outlook: The Julliard trained actor is in high demand for his chameleon-like quality to totally embrace divergent roles. With a growing cult following for his work as Lafayette Reynolds on the highly-rated HBO series, True Blood, Ellis is forging a path as a strong contender for character roles in both film and television.
Currently: Right now Ellis is expanding his craft into writing and producing with several film shorts, Page 36 and The End of Thorns recently completed.
Upcoming: The actor will return for a 4th season of True Blood, which promises to be more provocative than ever.
5. . Brandon T. Jackson
Projects: Tropic Thunder, Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Lottery Ticket
Outlook: Jackson continues to demonstrate his versatility as an actor with roles that reflect his comedic and dramatic sensibilities.
Currently: Brandon was hand –picked to star opposite Martin Lawrence in the third installment of Big Momma’s House: Like Father, Like Son.
Upcoming: Brandon collaborated with T. Pain on a song inspired by the movie (I’ma Do It Big), Jackson’s winning streak is sure to continue.
6. Anthony Mackie
Projects: 8 Mile, Manchurian Candidate, The Hurt Locker
Outlook: The Julliard-trained actor is already on the short list for stardom for his work on stage and in several, big-budget, high-profile films.
Currently: Mackie is earning major kudos for his starring role (opposite Kerry Washington) in Night Catches Us.
Upcoming: With several projects in the pipeline that include: Man on a Ledge, Ten Year, Real Steal and Bolden, Mackie will next be seen in a co-starring role opposite Matt Damon in the highly anticipated thriller-romance film, The Adjustment Bureau.
7. Keke Palmer
Projects: Akeelah and the Bee, Madea’s Family Reunion, The Longshots
Outlook: Only 17, Palmer is building an entertainment empire via her successful career as an actress, singer, producer and designer.
Currently: Palmer stars on the hit Nckelodeon series True Jackson, VP.
Upcoming: The multi-talented actress is carefully making the transition into adult roles with the upcoming project, Joyful Noise (opposite Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton).
8. Zoe Saldana
Projects: Takers, Avatar, Star Trek
Outlook: The road is paved in gold for Saldana, who hit the acting juggernaut with not one, but two highly successful franchise vehicles (Avatar and Star Trek). Add to that her current stint as one of the faces of designer Calvin Klein and what you have is stardom of iconic proportions.
Currently: She is currently filming the international, action film (think, Laura Croft: Tomb Raider), Columbiana.
Upcoming: Already under contract for two Avatar follow-ups, plus a Star Trek sequel, Saldana is a face that we can expect to see for a long time to come.
9. Jaden Smith
Projects: Pursuit of Happyness, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Karate Kid
Outlook: The future is bright for Smith, who at age 12 is already a proven box office star with nearly a half-billion dollars in film receipts to his credit. With a diverse canon of projects to his credit, include a science-fiction remake, an inspirational drama and a family film franchise.
Currently: Smith recently starred opposite fellow teen star Justin Bieber, with whom he recorded the international single Never Say Never, in the recently released concert film about Bieber’s life.
Upcoming: Whatever he wants! He’s got the talent, looks and charisma to be a major player in Hollywood for a long time to come. Oh, and he’s also got superstar parents Will and Jada Smith to guide him along the way.
10. Jurnee Smollett
Projects: Eve’s Bayou, Selma, Lord Selma, Roll Bounce, The Great Debaters
Outlook: In 1994-95, Jurnee starred in the ABC sitcom On Our Own with siblings JoJo, Jazz, Jussie, Jake and Jocqui. Since earning kudos for her performance in Eve’s Bayou, Smollett has honed her acting skills with a succession of roles in both film and television.
Currently: The lovely actress is pulling double-duty starring on both the CBS legal drama, The Defenders and NBC’s Friday Night Lights, which is a strong indicator that Smollett looks to have a strong career ahead.
Upcoming: A passionate advocate for HIV/AIDS prevention, Smollett will soon appear in a series of PSA’s on the epidemic.
BEST BETS – THEATRE
FOOL FOR LOVE – True Colors Theatre
Tony Award winner Kenny Leon and Jasmine Guy will co-star in the Sam Shepard drama about a volatile love affair, Fool for Love, which will play a limited four-week run at Atlanta’s True Colors Theatre from May 13 to June 13th. True Colors artistic director Leon, who most recently staged the Broadway revival of Fences with Denzel Washington, will play Eddie and Guy (“Chicago, “A Different World”) as May. Todd Kreidler will direct the production. For tickets phone (404) 588-0308 or visit TrueColorsTheatreCompany.
2011 Corvette GS Coupe
Like a gifted athlete, the 2011 Corvette Grand Sport Coupe has the strength, agility and power to operate like a top-notch, road warrior. Once behind its wheel, you’ll immediately feel its passion for excellence and high-performance. Oh, and let me not forget to mention that it’s also nice to look at as well…
Wow Factor: With its sexy and charismatic body build, the 2011 Covette more than lives up to its “war ship” reputation. The ride has long been noted as one of America’s leading sports cars and this generation more than lives up to its name.
Ride: The 2011 Vette is outfitted with a 6.2-liter V8 that’s good for 430 horsepower. Yep, this car is fast – offering a straight line acceleration that’s amazing fast. It also offers a smooth ride as well, with a solid suspension system and steering column that absorbs friction on a variety of road conditions. This ride’s fuel economy is also impressive with EPA estimates standing at 16 mpg city/26 mpg highway.
Comfort: The 2011 Vette is equally blessed with great interior functions that feature both controls and gauges that are easy to read and reach. The seats on this ride fit like a glove and offer both driver passengers with lower back support and suitable leg room. However, its cargo capacity (22 cubic feet for the coupe), which offers enormous value for a vehicle its size.
Spin Control: Although the 2011 Corvette would be perfectly at home on a racetrack, it is also surprising capable for day-to-day driving as well. With its solid good looks, impressive performance and fair pricing (standard price: mid-50s), this Vette is destined to find a home with road warriors across several demos.
Copyright, 2011 Robertson Treatment, LLC All rights reserved.