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Archive for the ‘actresses’ Category

Angela Bassett (1958- ), an American actress, is perhaps the best black female actress alive in Hollywood. She is both more beautiful and far more talented than Halle Berry, the only black woman so far to win an Oscar for best actress. Bassett has played Tina Turner, the wife of Malcolm X (twice) and the mother of Biggie Smalls.

Some of her films:

  • 1991: Boyz N the Hood
  • 1992: Malcolm X
  • 1993: What’s Love Got to Do with It
  • 1995: Waiting to Exhale (pictured above)
  • 1995: Strange Days
  • 1998: How Stella Got Her Groove Back
  • 2006: Akeelah and the Bee
  • 2008: Meet the Browns
  • 2009: Notorious

I already knew who she was by the time she appeared in “Malcolm X” but apparently it was playing Tina Turner a year later in “What’s Love Got to Do with It” that made her name with mainstream American audiences.

She lost the lead in “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge” (1999) to Halle Berry. She turned down the lead in “Monster’s Ball” (2001) because of how it shows black women – and because she does not do nude scenes. Halle Berry took that part and went on to win an Oscar for best actress.

Angela Bassett was born on the very same day as Madonna: August 16th 1958. She was born in Harlem but her mother soon moved to St Petersburg, Florida, where she grew up in public housing.

In 1974 she saw James Earl Jones in “Of Mice and Men” on a school trip to Washington, DC:

I just sat there after the play, boo-hoo crying, weeping. I couldn’t move, and I remember thinking, “My gosh, if I could make somebody feel the way I feel right now!”

From that moment she began to think about becoming an actress.

She got a scholarship to Yale. After getting her degree in African American Studies, she studied acting at the Yale School of Drama. She had to unlearn her Southern accent. There she met Courtney B. Vance, whom she would one day marry.

After Yale she acted in some television ads, the soap opera “Guiding Light” and two August Wilson plays. Then her friend Larry Fishburne helped her to land a part in “Boyz N the Hood”. She played the mother of the main character – but to her she was playing her own mother. That got her noticed as a serious actress in Hollywood.

In 1993 she starred opposite Fishburne in “What’s Love Got to Do with It”, with her cast as Tina to his Ike. She broke her hand during shooting – but that only helped her to play Tina Turner even better. Tina Turner did her make-up and taught her the dance moves. One reviewer said that Bassett, “captures the erotic youthquake that was Tina Turner in the ’60s and early ’70s”.

In 1997 she married actor Courtney B. Vance. He played her husband when she appeared in the last season of “ER” (2008-2009). They have a boy and a girl: Slater and Bronwyn, both born in 2006 by means of a surrogate mother (Bassett was 47 at the time of their birth).

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gina12

Gina Torres (1969- ) is an American actress. She starred in the television shows “Firefly” (2002-2003) and “Cleopatra 2525″ (2000-2001), but in general she plays a supporting character in science fiction & fantasy or FBI agent sort of shows, like “Hercules”, “24”, “Alias”, “Standoff” and two of the Matrix films. You can see her now in “FlashForward” which is an FBI science fiction show!  She is tall, pretty and does her own stunts. Oh, and she can sing opera too.

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gina18Those who do not watch those sort of shows might remember her as the wife of Chris Rock in “I Think I Love My Wife” (2007).

Off stage she is the wife of Larry Fishburne, another serious black actor. They married in 2002 and had a daughter, Delilah, in 2007. They live in New Rochelle, New York just north of New York City

She is tall, thin and has beautiful eyes and beautiful lips! Her natural hair seems to be Type 3. She is as tall as a model: 5 foot 10 (1.78 m). And as tall as her husband!

At first I thought she was Nuyorican. She is in fact from New York – she was born in Manhattan and grew up in the Bronx – but her parents came from Cuba, not Puerto Rico. Her father was a newspaper typesetter.

Her parents loved Latin jazz and so did she. She wanted to be a singer – and had talent: she got into La Guardia High School for the Arts in New York. She sang opera, jazz and gospel. She wanted to go to university and had the grades but her parents did not have the money.

So she went to Lincoln Center and did office work hoping to get noticed. She did. That led to stage acting (“Dreamgirls”, “Antigone”, “Blood Wedding” and others) and, in time, to television. From 1995 to 1996 she played Magdelena on the soap opera “One Life to Live”.

She got her start as an action character on “Xena: Warrior Princess” in 1997. She only appeared once, but that led to a regular part on “Hercules” (1998-1999) and then to two seasons of  “Cleopatra 2525″ (2000-2001) where she was one of the three main characters. That led to parts on the Matrix films and primetime shows.

Torres:

You have to have a spirit of warrior in you. You’re going to be facing battles as a woman in this industry and a woman of color. You have to be prepared to face battles of respect and pride and sexuality, and you can’t tire of fighting.

How Larry Fishburne won her heart: the Wikipedia says they met on the set of a Matrix film. Not true: they met and dated years before. One of their dates was during the New York blizzard of 1995: all the snow of one winter fell in one day. And they were outside having a snowball fight in Fort Tryon Park! Then they sat down on a bench overlooking the Hudson River. Sitting there knee-deep in snow he pulled out his harmonica and serenaded her.

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linda40Linda Harrison (1945- ) is an American actress. She is world-famous, though not by name, for one part in one film where she spoke no lines at all: she played Nova, Charlton Heston’s girlfriend in “Planet of the Apes” (1968). She was also in “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970) where she said just one word: “Taylor!”, the name of Heston’s character.

linda43I think she is one of the most beautiful white women ever. I was reminded of her when I was on Zaius Nation the other day.

She grew up in Berlin, Maryland on the Delmarva Peninsula. In the early 1960s she won a string of beauty contests in Maryland, becoming Miss Maryland in 1965 – and coming close to winning Miss USA.

In 1965 she came to New York to become a model and maybe an actress. She did a screen test for 20th Century Fox and landed a seven-year contract!

In 1966 she played a cheerleader twice on the television show “Batman” and was in a Jerry Lewis film, “Way… Way Out”.

linda04In 1967 she was in “A Guide for the Married Man”: she appears for five minutes with blonde hair but says no lines. She also became the first woman ever to play Wonder Woman for television (the show failed).

In 1968 she was in “Planet of the Apes”. Again no lines, but this time there was a good reason: her character lives in a world where apes talk and humans do not!

linda06About playing Nova she says:

I felt very intuitive that my particular personality and nature were like Nova. Automatically, I’d say that’s about 80% of the part. The director, the producer and the writer talked with me about her, and they described her as “sub-human.” We hadn’t really had an actress play “sub-human” before. Nova’s not like Raquel Welch’s character in “One Million Years B.C.” (1966). She was more primitive because of the apes’ suppression. We played it by ear and experimented. It was really a moment-to-moment thing.

The trope is Nubile Savage, kissing cousin of the Jungle Princess.

linda51In 1969 she played a regular character on the television show “Bracken’s World”, which was cancelled in the second season. About this time she made the cover of Cosmopolitan magazine and became friends with editor Helen Gurley Brown.

Also in 1969 she married Richard Zanuck, a producer whose father ran Fox. After “Bracken’s World” Harrison dropped out of sight to become a mother to two sons, Harrison and Dean. She divorced in 1978.

She later appeared in some other films, like “Airport 1975″ (1974) and “Cocoon” (1985), but nothing to top Nova.

She almost played Roy Scheider’s wife in “Jaws” (1975). Her husband produced “Jaws” and wanted her for the part, but unfortunately he was overruled by the head of Universal who put in his own wife instead.

Harrison appeared briefly in Tim Burton’s 2001 remake of “Planet of the Apes” as Woman In Cart.

These days you can still see her at science fiction conventions!

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OBIT AALIYAH

Aaliyah Haughton (1979-2001), better known as just Aaliyah, was an American R&B singer who sold 24 million records worldwide and was an up-and-coming Hollywood actress. She died eight years ago today at the age of 22 in a plane crash. She called her singing “street but sweet”. As one fan at her funeral said, she was beautiful both on the outside and on the inside.

These three songs reached number one on the American R&B charts:

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1994: Back & Forth

Aaliyah - If Your Girl Only Knew

1996: If Your Girl Only Knew

Aaliyah - Miss You

2003: Miss You

Number one  on the American pop charts:

Aaliyah feat. Timbaland - Try Again

2000: Try Again

And number one on the British charts:

Aaliyah - More Than A Woman

2002: More Than a Woman

I mainly remember her for that song and these two:

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1998: Are You That Somebody?

Aaliyah - Rock The Boat

2001: Rock the Boat

Aaliyah was born in Brooklyn but mainly grew up in Detroit. Her mother gave up being a singer so that she could bring up Aaliyah and her older brother, Rashad. (Despite their Arab names, they seem to be Catholic.)

Aaliyah had singing lessons from an early age, took part in school plays and at age 11 appeared on the television talent show, “Star Search”:

Aaliyah in Star Search

1990: My Funny Valentine

She lost, but later that year she performed with Gladys Knight in Las Vegas and a year later got her first record deal. You see, her uncle was married to Gladys Knight and managed R. Kelly! Kelly wrote and produced Aaliyah’s first album, “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number” (1994).

It came out when she was 15 and produced a number one hit, “Back & Forth”.  But she was not the only 15-year-old girl with a number one hit that year: Brandy had one too: “I Wanna Be Down”.

That summer Aaliyah and R. Kelly got married! They both deny it but there is a marriage certificate. Aaliyah put down her age as 18, not 15. Her parents had the marriage annulled because she was underage.

After that Aaliyah and R. Kelly parted ways. She went to Atlantic Records where Timbaland and Missy Elliott wrote and produced her second and third albums: “One in a Million” (1996) and “Aaliyah” (2001).

She graduated from high school in 1997 and then went into acting, her second love. She appeared in “Romeo Must Die” (2000) opposite Jet Li  and in Anne Rice’s “Queen of the Damned” (2002).  At the time of her death she was set to appear in the Matrix films and was on a level with the likes of Rosario Dawson, Jessica Alba and Zoe Saldana in terms of the sort of parts she was getting.

Flying back to Florida from the Bahamas on August 25th 2001 after doing the video for “Rock the Boat”, the plane went down right after take-off and blew up. She and seven others on board died instantly. The plane was overloaded.

At her funeral in New York her body was taken to the church in a silver casket inside a glass carriage pulled by horses. At the end of the funeral they let 22 white doves fly into the sky, one for each year of her short life.

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meagan-good

Meagan Good (1981- ) is an American actress and beauty. She was named for an NAACP Image Award for playing Cisely Baptiste in “Eve’s Bayou” (1997). But despite her beauty and talent, she mostly winds up playing supporting characters. She has yet to play the lead in a film that makes it big.

meagan1She is one of four children of a Los Angeles police officer, growing up in Canyon Country north of the city. She is part black, Cherokee Indian, Puerto Rican and Jewish. Her father’s father came from Barbados.

She started acting at age four in television ads. In her very first ad she had to skate but did not know how! She was in ads for Barbie, AT&T, Pringles, Burger King, etc. But it was not till much later, when she saw Danielle Harris in “Halloween 4″ (1988) and “Halloween 5″ (1989), that she knew she wanted to be an actress.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s she guest starred in over a dozen television shows, like “Moesha”, “The Steve Harvey Show” and “Touched by an Angel”.

She started getting into films too. When she was hired for “Eve’s Bayou” she was just 16 and pretty much unknown. But after that she started getting steadier television work: she was Nina on “Cousin Skeeter” (1998-2000) on Nickelodeon and Katie on “Raising Dad” (2001-2002) on the WB. She was Vanessa, Junior’s girlfriend,  for five episodes of “My Wife and Kids” in 2003 but then was suddenly replaced by Brooklyn Sudano for reasons unclear. After that she gave most of her attention to film acting.

She has been in some well-known films, but almost always as a supporting character. None of the films she has starred in has been a big hit, though some have done well, like “Stomp the Yard” (2007). She has yet to take off as an actress.

Her dream come true would be to play Aaliyah:

I really, really want to do Aaliyah’s life story; I was a huge fan of hers. I think she’s such a positive role model. She really kind of handled the industry with such class and such respect for herself. Even though there are things that you may have heard, here or there, the way that she handled it and the way that she was, was just so classy and so beautiful.

She has also been in music videos, like 5o Cent’s “21 Questions” (2003) and has made the cover of King magazine, entering the whole video vixen world through her acting, which is the opposite way of how most do it.

She is much better known for her looks than her acting. It is not too hard to find websites that have over a thousand pictures of her!

She has black hair, high cheekbones, thick lips, beautiful eyes and a thin but nice figure. She is 5 foot 4 (1.63 m) tall. Her measurements are 36-24-34 (91-61-86 cm) and has a waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) of 0.71.

According to at least Internet rumour she has dated Jamie Foxx (he denies it), Joseph Gordon, Nick Cannon, Ty Hodges, Thomas Jones and Soulja Boy.

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mercyMercy Johnson (c. 1982- ) is an actress in Nollywood, the Nigerian film industry. She has been in more than 70 films, the best known of these being “The Maid”, “Kill the Bride”, “Last Kiss” and “My Heart Your Home”. She is good at playing crying women.

She is known for her sex appeal: she has a great figure. The press often calls her “dark-skinned”.

She does not always dress well. She says, “I’ll rather sponsor a child than spend 180,000 nairas on a designer bag.” Yet even when she first tried out for a part in a film she showed up with bedroom slippers on her feet!

She seemed to have come out of nowhere and, well, she did: she did not know anyone in Nollywood. She did not even have any training. She just showed up at the national theatre, trying out for part after part till she got one. She just kept at it, never giving up:“I knew what I wanted and I had to go for it.” It was that or computer school, like her father wanted.

She says her success is simply a matter of hard work and the favour of God, which gave her talent.

Her first film was “Moving Train” (2000). Her big break came two years later when she got the lead  in “The Maid” (2002).

Despite all that, and despite having acted in high school plays, she never wanted to be an actress! Instead her aim was to be like Genevieve Nnaji, the top actress in Nollywood, whom she admires (and has since worked with). She still has a ways to go.

She is known for her kissing on film. She feels nothing when she does it – for her it is just make-believe, part of her work, which she wants to keep separate from her feelings.

In 2008 she was buying up property. Partly to put her millions of nairas into something, but partly to buy land for what she calls the House of Mercy, which will be a home  for unwanted or parentless children.

She used to sell water on the streets of Lagos. She can prove by marks on her legs from the many times she fell down in the gutter.

She was born the fourth of seven children – four girls, three boys – in Satellite Town, Lagos. She had a strict Christian upbringing. Because her father was an officer in the navy she spent part of her childhood in Calabar. She was the apple of his eye and loves to talk about him. Yet she will not talk about her mother – or her current boyfriend. She hopes to get married by 2010.

She went to Lagos State University for an English degree but did not complete her studies.

She is a homebody who likes to play Monopoly at home rather than go out dancing.

In 2009 the Nigerian press, which sometimes just makes up stuff, says she was going with singer D’Banj and fought over him with Rukky Sanda. Both of them deny it up and down when asked.

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FatouN'DiayeFatou N’Diaye (1980- ) is a French actress and model who was born in Senegal. She is not the dancer of the same name. Since 2001 she has appeared in both French film and television. Her best film to date is probably “Nha fala” (2003) though “A Sunday in Kigali” (2006) seems to be better known.

She was born in Saint-Louis in Sengal. Her native language is Wolof. When she was eight she left Senegal with her mother to live in France.

In 1997 at age 17 she was discovered by photographer Oliviero Toscani, who is famous for the United Colors of Benetton ads. He urged her to become a model. She is tall, thin and pretty

She is 5 foot 10 inches tall (1.78 m) and her measurements are 31.5-23-35 (80-58.5-89 cm), giving her a waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) of 0.66.

She did do some modelling, but her heart was set on acting. She wanted to go to drama school,  but then director Daniel Vigne asked her to play the lead in a made-for-television film he was making – even though she had no acting experience!

She spent  a few days with an actress who taught her the tricks of the trade and then did her best.

The film was “Fatou la Malienne” (2001). It was the true story of a woman from Mali who lived in France but was forced to get married. It got her noticed: 8 million people in France saw it.

After that she worked with the famous French actor Charles Aznavour. She loves jazz and he was able to tell her about all the jazz greats that he once knew.

In 2002 she had a small part in “Astérix et Obélix : Mission Cléopâtre”, starring Monica Bellucci. It was her first experience of a big film production.

In 2003 she starred in “Nha Fala” (“My Voice”), directed by Flora Gomes. It is a Portuguese-French-Luxembourger musical comedy (yes) set in France and Cape Verde.  It is in both French and Portuguese Creole.

She plays a mixed-race character who comes from a family where the women die if they sing. When she leaves Cape Verde for France she promises her mother that she will not sing. Not only did she forget her promise, she became a singer! People were amazed at how well she could sing. She came back to Cape Verde to prepare for her funeral – but she did not die!

N’Diaye says the film is about expressing yourself. Some see it as a metaphor for colonialism, about how trying to be white goes against being your true self – which is why her being mixed-race is important.

In 2006 she played the female lead in a French-Canadian film, “Un dimanche à Kigali” (“A Sunday in Kigali”). It is abouat a man who comes to Rwanda and falls in love with a woman there. Separated by the genocide he tries to find her.

Her next leading part was in “Tropiques amers” (2007), the first French television series about slavery in the French Caribbean. It is a historical drama set in Martinique in the late 1700s.

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