May 2003
The Matrix Reloaded : African-Americans in the Matrix Reloaded

Compiled by Wilson Morales

The Matrix Reloaded: African-Americans in the Matrix Reloaded

How many films have there been that featured at least 9 African-Americans and have not been categorized as a "Black Film"? Stumped? Rightly so. Explore the world of Zion, the city serving as the backdrop for The Matrix Reloaded. Keanu Reeves returns as Neo, as do Lawrence Fishburne as Morpheus, and Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity. Joining the crew are Jada Pinkett-Smith as Niobe and a slew of talented African-Americans.

Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus

LAURENCE FISHBURNE (Morpheus), honored for his work on the stage and screen, earned an Academy Award nomination for his searing portrayal of Ike Turner in the hit biopic What’s Love Got to Do with It. Fishburne recently made his directorial debut, as well as starring in and producing, Once in the Life, which he wrote based on the one-act play Riff Raff in which he starred, wrote and directed in 1994. Fishburne, who began acting at the age of 10, was only 15 years old when he won the role of a young G.I. in Francis Coppola’s Vietnam War epic, Apocalypse Now. He went on to work with Coppola on Rumble Fish, Gardens of Stone and The Cotton Club.

Fishburne has collaborated twice with noted director John Singleton, on Boyz ‘N the Hood and Higher Learning, earning an NAACP Image Award for Best Actor for the former. His other credits include Othello, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Just Cause, Bad Company, Class Action, Deep Cover, Fled, Cadence, King of New York, Red Heat, Band of the Hand, Spike Lee’s School Daze, Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple, Hoodlum, Event Horizon, The Matrix, as the voice for Thrax in Osmosis Jones and most recently as the star of Biker Boyz.

Fishburne will next be seen in Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River, starring alongside the acclaimed cast of Kevin Bacon, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Marcia Gay Harden, followed by the explosive conclusion to The Matrix film trilogy, The Matrix Revolutions, in November.

Jada Pinkett Smith as Niobe

JADA PINKETT SMITH (Niobe) was most recently seen in her Image Award-nominated role as Sonji in the Academy Award-nominated Ali, starring Will Smith. She also recently starred opposite LL Cool J, Whoopi Goldberg and Vivica A. Fox in Kingdom Come. Additional credits include Spike Lee’s Bamboozled; the title role for director Daisy Von Scherler Meyer’s film Woo, co-starring Tommy Davidson; the teen thriller Scream 2 opposite Neve Campbell; and a cameo role as the young journalist in the critically acclaimed film A Return to Paradise starring Vince Vaughn, Anne Heche and Joaquin Phoenix.

Among her additional film credits are The Nutty Professor opposite Eddie Murphy; Set It Off opposite Vivica A. Fox and Queen Latifah; Demon Knight, director Ernest Dickerson’s big screen adaptation of the popular HBO series Tales from the Crypt; Keenen Ivory Wayans’ A Low Down Dirty Shame; Jason’s Lyric and The Inkwell. Pinkett Smith made her film debut in 1993 in Menace II Society, directed by Allen and Albert Hughes. Her big break came when she landed a role on the long-running NBC series A Different World.

Nona Gaye as Zee

A native of Washington D.C., NONA GAYE (Zee) is best known for her acclaimed performance opposite Will Smith as Belinda, Muhammad Ali’s second wife in Michael Mann’s Ali. Gaye will reprise her role as Zee in The Matrix Revolutions, which will be released November 5, 2003. She is currently in production on The Polar Express in which she stars opposite Tom Hanks for director Robert Zemeckis.

Harold Perrineau Jr. as Kain

HAROLD PERRINEAU (Link) starred on the critically acclaimed HBO series OZ created by Tom Fontana. For the past 6 seasons, Perrineau portrayed the role of Augustus Hill, the wheel chair bound narrator imprisoned for 20 years to life for drug dealing and murder in this gritty, quick-paced CableACE-winning series.

Perrineau recently appeared on the big screen in Woman on Top opposite Penelope Cruz. His other feature film credits include The Best Man, the independent films On_Line and A Day in Black and White, The Edge opposite Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin, Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes and John Leguizamo and Wayne Wang’s critically acclaimed film Smoke, for which he was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male.

Harry Lennix as Lock

HARRY LENNIX (Commander Lock) has appeared in numerous feature films, television series and stage productions. Among his feature film credits are Andrew Davis’ Collateral Damage and The Package; the upcoming Never Get Outta the Boat; Pumpkin; Julie Taymor’s Titus (for which he received a Golden Satellite Award from the International Press Academy and also received a Tree of Life Award); David Schwimmer’s Dogwater; Spike Lee’s Get on the Bus and Clockers; and Tim Robbins’ Bob Roberts. With Robert Townsend as producer, Lennix staged and adapted, from the original Townsend screenplay, The Five Heartbeats, in which he also starred when it was filmed for Fox.

For television, Lennix starred in Keep the Faith Baby - The Adam Clayton Powell Story for Showtime (for which he was nominated for an NAACP Image Award), and appeared in a recurring role on E.R. and in guest starring roles on such popular shows as Judging Amy, Ally McBeal and The Practice.

Lennix will soon be seen in the upcoming films Suspect Zero with Carrie-Anne Moss and The Human Stain, starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman.

Gloria Foster as The Oracle

Sadly, Ms. Foster died September 2001 after filming almost all shots for Reloaded. Foster’s feature film debut was in 1963’s Cool World, and her feature credits include The Comedians, Man and Boy, City of Hope and The Matrix. Foster’s many television credits include guest appearances on Soul Food, Law & Order, The Cosby Show, Mod Squad and I Spy. Mary Alice will replace her in Revolutions.

Roy Jones Jr. as Captain Ballard

Roy Jones Jr. (Captain Ballard) was robbed of the gold medal in Boxing at 1988 Summer Olympics due to an error in scoring yet was still voted Outstanding Boxer of the Games; won IBF middleweight crown by beating Bernard Hopkins in 1993; moved up to super middleweight and won IBF title from James Toney in 1994; moved up to light heavyweight division winning WBC (in 1997), WBA (1998) and IBF titles (1999); suffered only pro loss in a disqualification to Montel Griffin which he avenged with a 1st round KO 5 months later. On March 1, 2003, Roy Jones, Jr. would make history with a 12-round unanimous decision over John Ruiz. He became just the second light heavyweight champion since Michael Spinks in 1985 and just the second former middleweight champion since Bob Fitzsimmons in 1897 to capture a share of the heavyweight title.

Gina Torres as Cass [Dozer's widow]

Gina Torres (Cass) had recurring roles in such tv shows as Hercules: The Legendary Journey, Alias and Any Day Now. She’s made guest appearances in Law & Order, NYPD Blue and Profiler. Gina was a regular in the tv show Cleopatra 2525 and more recently the FOX tv series Firefly. Her film credits includes The Substance of Fire and Bed of Rose

Sasha Sarago

Sasha Sarago is a model/ actress who comes from Geelong, Australia and has a diverse background of Aboriginal/ Malay/ Maritius (mother) and African-American/ Spanish (Father).

Dr. Cornel West as Counselor West

Cornel West is playing a Zion Elder called Counselor West. He was invited by Larry and Andy Wachowski, the movies' writer-director team, who'd read West's philosophical writings and wanted to incorporate him into the script. West, Professor of Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University, is one of America’s most gifted, provocative, and important public intellectuals. Dr. West has won numerous awards, including the American Book Award, and has received more than 20 honorary degrees. In 1993, West had a bestseller with his book Race Matters.