June 2002
Kim Wayans & Tommy of Juwanna

Interviewed by Phyllis Lewis

Kim Wayans & Tommy of Juwanna

Most men dream of being surrounded by shapely silhouettes, toned thighs and a talented cast of ladies. Well, Jamal Jeffries didn’t just dream about it he actually made it his reality in the entertaining summer flicks “Juwanna Mann” starring Miguel A. Nunez, Jr. (Sparks, Life and Why do Fools Fall in Love) and Vivica A. Foxx (Soul Food, Out all Night, Independence Day, Set it Off) who plays the role of Michelle Langford. Along with a talented cast of stars such as Kevin Pollak, Kim Wayans, Tommy Davidson, rapper Lil Kim and R&B singer Ginuwine. This romantic comedy directed by Jesse Vaughn is embossed with conflict, adventure and sports that shows what one will do when his passion is being threaten by the one thing he truly loves, SELF.

Jamal Jeffries is an All-Star NBA player who’s inflated ego eclipses his fame when he strips at a Nationally televised Press Conference causing him to be suspended from the league. Instead of losing a grip on things, he moves quickly on his feet attempting to make a winning shot the last 3 seconds in the fourth quarter of his career. Using all his of

his great moves and the power of his agent’s negotiation, he slammed dunked a try-out for the WNBA Charlotte Banshees Basketball team to maintain his sanity until he could appeal the charge against him.

What Jamal hadn’t planned was the move LOVE was going to make. So, now he has to fight his feelings for his team captain, Michelle Langford. As he is placed under pressure, he has to decide whether or not he’s going to block the shot at being reinstated into the league, intentionally not scoring with the woman of his affection and losing his wig and dignity. The film is actually funny. Miguel Nunez, Jr. Is very convincing in his role as a woman. I thought Vivica A. Foxx did a great job. You can recognize her perfections. It is very evident that she’s been putting time into her craft. There are several cameo appearances of some of the WNBA’s top stars. This film also includes a cast of talented comedians, actors and actresses. You have Tommy Davidson who’s taken two moguls of hip-hop, Master P and P. Diddy Combs, and woven them into one character, Puff Smoke Smoke. The words this guy comes up with are so funny. This is a good PG-13 flick with sex related material but presented in such a tasteful way.

I had the privilege of interviewing two cast members, Kim Wayans and Tommy Davidson both who are talented comedians who’ve made their mark on Hollywood stages and silver screen. It is know in Hollywood that black roles are scarce and executives don’t believe that black people are capable of producing good romances, dramas and action flicks. Sitting with these two was a valuable experience. I was vested with a lot of gold nuggets.

She comes from a family of comedians and though she wears the inherited cloak of comedy well, Kim Wayans is no joke. When asked about the places her career path has taken her response was:

Kim: I enjoy doing comedy that is why I pursue it. I believe that life is hard enough already and full of drama so I find things that are funny to use as material. If you look there is humor in every situation like your Aunt eating up all the food at the funeral or the lady sitting next to you at the bus stop. Being a child of ten, I was given tons of material when I didn’t know it. I’m not weary doing comical roles. Comedy is the essence of my being and I am striving with eagerness to take the next step.

I was very impressed with this Sista’s perspective on things. She knows when to play and how to make the money. She’s very focused on the present rarely living in the memories of her days on “In Living Color.” Humbly accepting what God is allowing to happen in her life she relaxes in the seat of a writer and actress on the Sitcom “My Wife and Kids” produced by another brother, Damien Wayans.

Kim: Kennon and the guys often talk about the things they could do if “ In Living Color”

was on right now. Me, I look back for material. I enjoy working with Damien on his sitcom. I’m learning from the way he runs his show, harness his writers and so forth. I realize what I am capable of and one day I can see myself doing a Kim Wayans show. You know with the help of my humble beginnings and my big feet I am able to stay grounded. I remember coming out here to pursue acting. It was a process. I got an agent who began sending me out on different auditions. Then I landed an audition for a role on “In Living Color.” Finally after a long process I got the part. The challenge for me probably would be doing more subtle forms of comedy but it can be done. I wouldn’t turn down a dramatic role if it came my way but I am satisfied with the opportunities I have now.

It’s no doubt that Kim is the Lucille ball of the Black Community and her career shows

signs of longevity. Now behind every good woman comes a great man. This brother takes animation to another level. Theatrics is definitely his crown and muse. Also a member of the cast “ In Living Color.” Tommy Davidson is hilarious. The voice of Oscar Proud on the cartoon the “Proud Family,” he has also co-stared with some of Hollywood’s hottest such as Halle Berry and Jada Pinkette Smith. He recently received great reviews for his acting on Spike Lee’s “Bamboozled.” Being a black man in America isn’t easy so imagine what it is like being a black comedian-actor in Hollywood. So when asked how things had been this is what Tommy had to say:

Tommy: You know things for me haven’t changed much since the role in “Bamboozled.” Sometimes I choose not to even go out for certain roles that will make me feel like crap but in doing that doesn’t say that I have a problem if one of my colleagues does something I wouldn’t do. When it comes to me I have to do what makes me feel good. I don’t determine success on my acting career but on my personal accomplishment. Acting is my job, one that I happen to have tons of fun doing. I would like to encourage black people to support black films: dramas, romances and action flicks so we can endure the long shelf in Hollywood.

Tommy: Being an African American in Hollywood is challenging. We are often faced with making decisions that presents the question of whether it’s our lively hood or integrity. Though family, living and mortgages help you quickly make those decisions. Things in Hollywood have gotten better but there is definitely room for more improvement. Most people make career choices to advance to the next level but for blacks there’s always the question are they going to ever admit that we are multicultural people who can do more than sing, carry guns and crack jokes?

You’ll enjoy this film as it allows you to escape the realities and pressure of life for a moment. So grab your kids and neighbors to spend a moment in time laughing and cheering as Juwanna Mann and her teammates do what all women all-stars do, BALL.