One On One: Nate Parker
Nov04

One On One: Nate Parker

Growing up poor in Virginia, Nate Parker had one goal: a college education that would bring a job he could support his family on. After graduating from the University of Oklahoma, fate took over when an agent approached Parker, which prompted Parker to move to L.A. In less than a week he acquired representation with one of the top ten agencies in the city and three months later, he’d landed his first job—a guest stint on CBS’ “Cold Case”—and he hasn’t stopped working. From his role of troubled star debater in “The Great Debaters,” to Alicia Keyes’ love interest in “The Secret Life Of Bees,” to portraying the first NAACP President Ben Chavis in “Blood Done Sign My Name,” and starring in George Lucas’ film “Red Tails,” the married father of three leans toward playing strong black characters that provide a positive male image. This month, Parker stars alongside up-and-coming British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw in “Beyond The Lights.”

One On One: Laurence Fishburne
Oct13

One On One: Laurence Fishburne

If there’s one word to describe Laurence Fishburne, it’s versatile. From single father in Boyz N The Hood to Morpheus in the blockbuster science fiction movie series The Matrix, Fishburne has built a diverse resume of stellar performances on stage, screen and TV – proving along the way that he can master almost any role. Among his notable screen credits are Clint Eastwood's Mystic River; Oliver Parker's Othello, for which he was the first African-American actor to play the title character in a major film version; John Singleton's Higher Learning; & Francis Ford Coppola's classic Apocalypse Now. In 1992, he earned an Emmy Award for his performance in the HBO-series Tribeca. But it was his role as Ike Turner in What’s Love Got to Do With It that earned him his biggest honor – an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. For Fishburne, who began acting when he was 12, success is no patent formula. These days the Georgia native is doing a lot more primetime as a regualar cast member on NBC’s Hannibal and a co-starring role in the new ABC series Black-ish.

One On One: Tracee Ellis Ross
Sep10

One On One: Tracee Ellis Ross

Tracee Ellis Ross, who’s best known role came fifteen years ago as attorney Joan Carol Clayton on UPN’s “Girlfriends,” which ran for eight seasons, and made her TV debut hosting on “The Dish,” is returning to primetime television this fall. The 41-year-old actress and three-time NAACP Image Award winner—who also just happens to be the daughter of legendary singer Diana Ross, will star opposite Anthony Anderson and Laurence Fishburne in “Blackish,” an ABC comedy series about an upper middle class family struggling with identifying their culture.

One on One: Viola Davis
Aug05

One on One: Viola Davis

Born into poverty on a Southern plantation, Viola Davis “escaped” her environment by acting, writing scripts and skits—which paid off handsomely for the two-time Tony Award winner and Oscar, SAG and Golden Globe nominee, who also holds a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Honored by Time as one of the most influential people in the world in 2012, Davis is known for her brief but strong performances in “Traffic,” “Antwone Fisher,” “Doubt,” “Eat Pray Love,” her stint on TV series “City of Angels” and her turn as maid Aibileen Clark in “The Help.” This month the 48-year-old plays James Brown’s mother in “Get On Up” and next month will star in Shonda Rhimes new ABC show “How to Get Away with Murder” premiering September 25.

One o One: Djimon Hounsou
Jul03

One o One: Djimon Hounsou

Rarely does an actor gain an Oscar nomination for his very first starring role, but that is exactly what happened to 50-year-old Djimon Hounsou with his breakout role in Steven Spielberg's "Amistad." Fact is, the Benin, Africa native became the talk of Tinseltown in 1997, not just for his stirring portrayal of Joseph Cinque, the leader of a slave ship mutiny, but also for his rags to riches rise to fame. Homeless and living on the streets of Paris after dropping out of school at 13, Hounsou moved to Hollywood to pursue acting. A chance encounter with Spielberg and Debbie Allen at an open casting call for the movie would forever alter the course of his career. A string of credits followed on both the big and small screens including a semi-regular role on “ER” and appearances in “Gladiator” opposite Russell Crowe and “Blood Diamond” opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, “Biker Boyz,” “Beauty Shop” and most recently “Baggage Claim” and most recently “How To Train Your Dragon 2.”

One On One: Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Jun02

One On One: Gugu Mbatha-Raw

31-year-old Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s first name means “our pride” in Zulu. And that’s a perfectly appropriate word for the blossoming actress that wowed audiences as the mixed-race daughter of an English aristocrat in the award-winning period drama “Belle.” Outside of her outstanding role, which is already generating the Oxford, London native some well-deserved Oscar buzz, the classically trained actress has also built a reputation for being articulate and easy-going. Her acting credits include a starring role in the TV series “Undercovers” with Boris Kodjoe, Fox’s “Touch” opposite Kiefer Sutherland, the Tom Hanks-Julia Roberts film “Larry Crowne” and the Jude Law-helmed “Hamlet” on Broadway—and she is far from finished.

First Ladies High Tea
November will mark the 20th Anniversary of our Annual First Ladies High Tea, honoring the contributions of female leaders and women of faith to the Los Angeles community. For more information, visit www.firstladieshightea.com
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