Common

*Born Lonnie Rashid Lynn in Chicago on March 13, 1972, Common rose to prominence as one of hip-hop’s most poetic and respected lyricists, having garnered multiple Grammy Awards for his first eight albums. Common’s ninth, The Dreamer, The Believer, will be released in December by Warner Brothers Records.

In 2004, he partnered with fellow Chicago native and rap music mega-star Kanye West to produce the album BE, which went on to garner four Grammy Award nominations. Three years later, Common released his critically-acclaimed seventh album, Finding Forever, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Album Chart and went on to earn him another Grammy. His eighth album, Universal Mind Control, was released in 2008 and was nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Rap Album.

Common’s film credits include “Smokin’ Aces,” “American Gangster,” “Wanted,” “Terminator Salvation,” “Date Night” and “Just Wright.” In addition, he is set to co-star opposite Jennifer Garner next year in “The Odd Life of Timothy Green.”

On TV, Common enjoys a recurring role on the AMC Network series “Hell on Wheels.” He plays Elam, a freed slave who heads West in search of work on the Transcontinental Railroad in post-Civil War America.

His memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, was published in September by Atria Books. He is also the author of several children’s books, including The MIRROR and M, its follow-up, I Like You But I Love Me, which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award, and M.E. (Mixed Emotions).

In 2000, Common launched the Common Ground Foundation, with the mission to empower disadvantaged youth in urban communities by mentoring them. Here, he talks about serving as the voice of Seymour in the animated comedy Happy Feet Two.

ROBERTSON TREATMENT: What interested you in playing Seymour?

COMMON: The reason why I really wanted to play Seymour was because Happy Feet Two is a family movie that can touch people of all ages. So, I saw the opportunity to be in the movie and to work with [director] George Miller, who is an incredibly talented visionary, as a great honor and blessing.

RT: What is the acting process like when you’re voicing an animated character?

C: First of all, you start by finding the pulse of the character, because even though it’s animated, it still has a soul. George Miller creates characters who have heart, so you start by finding their essence. Then you bring that essence to the character, and add your imagination.

RT: What film role will you tackle next?

C: God willing, I’ll be doing leading roles in some dramas, comedies and action films. My goal is to develop into a great actor.

RT: What message do you want the public to take away from your recent memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense?

C: I just want people to feel like they can achieve something great in their lives. We all go through rough times, but love is the antidote. You’ve got to dream and just believe in yourself. And if you believe, you will achieve it.

RT: How maintain your cool in the craziness of show business?

C: I attribute it to God, self-esteem, and knowing your purpose in life. It can’t be based on anything material or external.

RT: Tell me how your journey has morphed you into the man you are today.

C: I put God first, and strive to do my best by being a loving human being, recognizing that sometimes I make mistakes and bad choices. But God is my guide and love is the strongest element in the mix, so I try to not judge myself too much, knowing that at the end of the day, my greatest judge will be Jehovah God.

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BEST BETS – THEATRE

The Mountain Top

“THE MOUNTAINTOP and BEYOND”

One of the most provocative and unconventional plays ushering in the Fall Season on Broadway is the production of “The MountainTop”. Written by the one of theatre’s “Rising Stars”, Katori Hall, the play represents a creative and compelling retrospective of a night in the life of Civil Rights Icon-Dr. martin Luther King Jr. More  specifically, the play chronicles the fictionalized events of the night of April 3, 1968-the evening before Dr. King was shot on the balcony of The Lorraine Motel  in Memphis, Tennessee. Interspersed with fact, fiction and humor, “The MountainTop” challenges the audience to vicariously consider Dr. King-the man.

Although he was indeed the world renowned Civil Rights Leader of the day, he was also a man with personal emotions, aspirations and fears.

The play unfolds with a thunderous and torrential southern rainstorm. We are introduced to the imposing yet beleaguered figure (Dr. Marin Luther King Jr.) , played masterfully through the unique style of Academy Award nominated actor Samuel L. Jackson. At first glimpse, we identify with the image of Dr. King that is most familiar to us, this being Dr. King, the “Icon”. We hear the southern cadences and intonations we have grown to trust and love. We are mesmerized and inspired by the words of Dr. King delivered in the style of Samuel Jackson. As we prepare to sink into the comfort zone of the Dr. King we know we are introduced to a beguiling and intriguing character named Camae, who is a newly hired “Maid” at the Lorraine Motel. However,   as we become immersed in the skill and complexity of the play’s events we are presented with an unexpected enigma. Is Camae,  the   beautiful and alluring character who speaks  simple yet compelling  thoughts and commentary r-e-a-l-l-y a “Maid”, or is she a “Mystical Messenger” sent to fulfill a monumental edict?  Camae   is brilliantly played by fellow Academy Award Nominated actress, Angela Bassett.

Throughout the play, with the backdrop of the raging southern rainstorm, we witness a slice of history interspersed with the creative and imaginative writing of Katori Hall. Fact, fiction and humor  are intertwined to create a plausible yet unconventional look into the thinking, aspirations, frustrations and fears of  the “man” we know as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Through the directorial skill and majesty of Tony nominated and Award Winning Director, Kenny Leon, fact and fiction are juxtaposed travelers on an “Unforgettable Journey”. We are witnesses to a “Journey” which begins with a Civil Rights Icon and evolves into a life Changing Experience of an ordinary man with extraordinary “Dreams” for the future of mankind. During our “Journey” the image of the man we know as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.,-“The Icon” is challenged with by events of the mind, heart and soul. What emerges by the plays end is the image of a “man” with a “Dream” which is not realized during his lifetime but is left to present and future generations to achieve! As the play  comes to a close,  the audience  becomes engulfed in a steady stream of  powerful and prophetic images of past, and present leaders and Icons. These images come from all “Walks of Life”. Their individual and collective “Journey” is   an invaluable part of our  “Shared Journey”  to eradicate racism, sexism and inequality as we strive to create a world in which Love, Equality and Justice prevail!

The play ends,   with each of us being implored to “Pick Up The Baton” and become  “Dream Bearers” as we strive to achieve, not an “Impossible Dream” but a “Dream” only possible through our shared commitment, struggle and perseverance as we strive to get to “The Mountain Top” and Beyond!

Become a part of “The Journey” and experience theatre at its best while contemplating a vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. the “Man”, not “The Icon” and embracing the Challenge to work toward The Continued Evolution of Humankind!

The “MountainTop” is  currently playing on Broadway at The Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre located at 242 West 45th Street in New York City.

Lauvia Sherma, New York Correspondent RTSC

AUOTOMOTIVE SPIN

 FORD F-150

Like a prize race horse the Ford F-150 is universally admired for its stamina, superb handling and classic rugged features.  Recently, I had the chance to put this ride up to various challenges and found that it more than lived up to its reputation.

Wow Factor:  Beginning with its imposing exterior that is well complimented by it high quality interior features, F-150 looks good, both inside and out. Add to that its performance upgrade and this ride delivers is a driving experience that is above expectations.

Ride: The F-150 is outfitted with a 3.7-liter V6 that gets 302 horsepower and 278 pound-feet of torque to work with, which makes it ideal for hauling large loads. Another great feature is an impressive electric power steering that maneuvers well on a variety of road conditions.

Comfort:   The seats on this ride were built with endurance in mind and offer the space and back support for road trips and big city drives. Not surprisingly, the F-150 has great storage space for both everyday items such as drinks and files, not to mention big loads. I was also impressed with its upgrades sound system, which greatly enhanced my drives.

Spin Control: With its winning attributes, the Ford F-150 lives up to its status as the ultimate all around road vehicle.  With a base sticker price that starts in the mid-$20,000, this ride has everything it takes to sustain its world class legend.

Grade:  B+

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