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July 2006
Faces of Tomorrow: Ones to Watch 2006


Compiled by the writers of blackfilm.com

Faces of Tomorrow: Ones to Watch 2006
July 31, 2006

There’s always a new crop of individuals who are ready for stardom and this year is no exception. Following in the path of previous blackfilm.com's faces of tomorrow honorees like Terrence Howard, Tyler Perry, Anthony Mackie, and Kerry Washington, this year's list represents a talent pool whose body of work in this year alone we think has the potential for greatness in the future. In no particular order, we present to you the ones to watch for in 2006:


Keke Palmer

After a small turn in “Barbershop 2 – Back in Business”, Keke got a number of minor roles on TV shows like ER and Cold Case, and that led to her get cast opposite William H. Macy in the critically acclaimed film, “The Wool Cap”. Her performance not only won an NAACP Image award, but also a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Best Lead Actress. This young starlet turned in an amazing performance this year as the lead in “Akeelah and the Bee” with Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett and a good supporting role n in “Madea’s Family Reunion” with Tyler Perry. Keke is also a singer/songwriter/dancer who just inked a deal with Atlantic Records.


Sanaa Hamri

Every so often, we get a director switching gears from the music video world to the film industry, but it’s mostly men. Sanaa Hamri, who’s directed videos from Prince to Mariah Carey, has broken the ranks when she helmed her first feature, “Something New” that starred Sanaa Lathan. Her next feature will be “Dreams of a Dying Heart” for Focus Features.


Alicia Keys

It’s not so new these days when rappers and singers trade in their lyrics for a script. The question is whether or not they have the chops to be taken serious and get good roles. Based on word-of mouth test screenings, Alicia Keys makes one hell of an entrance in her debut film, “Smokin’ Aces”, that the role parlayed her to get cast opposite Scarlett Johansson in next year’s The Nanny Diaries. This Grammy-winning singer will also star in a remake of the 1958 film Bell Book and Candle. In addition, this musician-actress had a song on the soundtrack from “Ali” and “Glory Road”


Jennifer Hudson

When casting began for Dreamgirls, outside of Beyonce, it was a race to see who would play the lead role of Effie. While many names were tossed around, the producers went with someone new. Jennifer Hudson was a finalist on the third season of American Idol, so you know this girl has the musical chops. In February 2006, Hudson was named ShoWest "Female Star of Tomorrow," ShoWest is the largest annual convention for the motion picture industry. After a small preview was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, folks are already talking Oscars noms for her and the cast.


Yaya DaCosta

As a runner-up from America’s Top Model, one may have thought that Ya Ya DaCosta would have faded into obscurity, because she kept a relatively low profile since her season ended. But talent prevail and she came out of left field as the lead female in this year’s “Take the Lead” opposite Antonio Banderas. Currently filming “Shanghai Hotel” with Hill Harper, look for “Take the Lead” when it hits DVD stores on August 29th.


Evan Ross

With Tracee Ellis Ross (Girlfriends), we knew that the offspring of legendary diva Diana Ross were talented and when her baby son Evan was featured opposite rapper T.I. in “ATL”, it was a breakout role worth reckoning. Since then, Evan has been cast opposite Academy Award nominee Terrence Howard, Kimberly Elise, and Bernie Mac in the film “Pride”. “ATL” is currently out on DVD.


Mehcad Brooks

While many fans were disappointed on how Brooks’ character was writtern out from TV’s Desperate Housewives, folks will be happy to know that Brooks has landed a part in Spike Lee’s next film, Selling Time. Selling Time is about a man who sells parts of his life, as he tries to relive and change his worst day ever. Never underestimate the allure of a damaged past begging for mending. Brooks was part of the ensemble film, Glory Road”.


Paula Patton

Paula first made her film debut in “Hitch” and in just a short time, has landed some bigger roles included playing the girlfriend to Andre Benjamin’s character in the long-awaited film, “Idlewild” and in the Fall will be featured opposite Denzel Washngton in “Déjà Vu”.


Jaden Smith

The youngest member of this year’s list has found a smooth way to get into the film business. Having a lead role opposite your father, Will Smith, is the best way to learn the game. Sources say Jaden steals your heart away in “The Pursuit of Happyness”. Prior to his film career, Jaden played “Reggie” in a couple of TV episodes of “All of Us”.


Eva Pigford

Pigford won America’s Top Model and has quickly emerged on numerous covers on magazines. Pigford is also an actress and will be seen in the indie film, “Premium” with Hill Harper and Zoe Saldana, “Crossover” with Anthony Mackie and Wayne Brady, and “Blackout” with Jeffrey Wright.


Columbus Short

Besides acting, Short is a accomplished dancer, having been nominated for American Choreography Award in 2004. Short will be seen in the college theme film, “Accepted” and will be the lead of Sylvain White’s film, Steppin’, opposite singer Ne-Yo.


Sylvain White

White directed the horror film, “I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer”, which hits video stores later this summer and will have his next film, “Steppin’” in theaters next January. After the death of his younger brother, a troubled 19-year-old street (Columbus Short) dancer from Los Angeles is able to bypass juvenile hall by enrolling in the historically black, Truth University in Atlanta, Georgia. But his efforts to get an education and woo the girl (Meagan Good) he likes are sidelined when he is courted by the top two campus fraternities, both of which want and need his fierce street-style dance moves to win the highly coveted national step show competition.


Michael Pena

Believe it or not, if you look at Pena’s film bio on www.IMDB.com, you will see that this guy has been acting since 1994 and has a long list of credits, including a supporting turn in TV’s The Shield, but it was until he made such an emotional impact in the Academy Award winning film, ‘Crash”, that his face was recognized. Since then he’s been in “Million Dollar Baby”, and will star opposite Nicholas Cage in Oliver Stone’s 9/11 film, “World Trade Center”. Pena will star opposite Mark Walhberg in Antoine Fuqua’s film, ‘Shooter”.


Rochelle Aytes

No one can forget a beautiful face, especially when you get slapped by Blair Underwood in “Madea’s Family Reunion”, yet Rochelle stood out amongst the many talented people in the film as a face to watch in the coming years. Having done many espidosic work for numerous shows, Aytes will be Tyler Perry’s muse for his TV show, House of Payne.


Dorian Missick

Missick is another actor who’s been working since 1990 yet hasn’t had that role that put his name in people’s minds. Well, hopefully, with the work he’s lined up so far, that will change. Having been featured in “The Manchurian Candidate” with Denzel Washington, and playing the son of Samuel L. Jackson in “Freedomland” , and working with Morgan Freeman in “Lucky Number Slevin” has given Missick the exposure to be cast as the lead in Pete Chatmon’s film, Premium”, opposite Zoe Saldana. In the film, Missick plays Reginald "Cool" Coolidge, a struggling actor who’s fed up with taking stereotypical African American roles and waiting for his big break in a legitimate production.


Laz Alonso

Although Laz has been working in the film for a number of years going through thru the indie circuit, he started to elevate his position when he cast opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in last year’s Jarhead, and was featured in “The Tenants” this year with Snoop Doog. His next project is the ensemble film, “Flip the Script” which features Robin Givens and Mel Jackson. This Fall, the Washington D.C will be seen in the thriller Captivity, along with Elisha Cuthbert”

If there are any folks you think we may missed out on, send your comments to Wilson@blackfilm.com

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