FACES OF TOMORROW: ONES TO WATCH 2007
Compiled by the writers of blackfilm.com
July 23, 2007
Each year, a load of talent infiltates the big screen. Last year, it didn't get any bigger than our 2006 FOT Jennifer hudson winning Oscar Gold for best supporting actress in dream girls. Others have gone on to claim their fame in smaller steps. The people listed below are not all new faces--some have gained recognition through other mediums including music, theater and television. However, when it comes to the silver screen, we predict that many will become marquee faves and possibly household names. This year's nominees represent formidable talents whose collective body of work is not only impressive but indicative of their future star potential. Blackfilm.com presents, in no particular ranking, the 2007 faces of tomorrow whom we predict will be on The 'Wood's radar for years to come:
Brian J. White
White has been around for some time and he did plenty of guest appearances on TV such ‘The Shield’ and ‘Ghost Whisperer’, but within the last year, he’s been getting a higher profile in films. Earlier this year, he captured the hearts of the ladies as the frat leader in the hit film, ‘Stomp The Yard’ and had a brief appearance in Tyler Perry’s ‘Daddy’s Little Girls’. He was slated to star in the TV show ‘Hollywood Wives’ opposite Holly Robinson Peete and Gabrielle Union, but the show wasn’t picked up by the networks. That’s okay, we’ll see more of White when plays football with Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in ‘Game Plan’ which comes out in September.
When this young starlet first came on the scene playing the role of ‘New New’ in “ATL’ opposite rapper/actor T.I, not much was in the cards afterwards, so the jury was out waiting to see if she would stay in the game; and she has. With numerous appearances on awards shows, and a guest stint on HBO’s Entourage, London’s profile has certainly heightened. Later this year, London will appeared in ‘This Christmas’, opposite a bevy of talent (Nia Long, Regina King, Chris Brown, Idris Elba, Columbus Short).
Mostly known for his theater work, Ortiz has worked with the best of them including Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman, and he definitely paid his dues trying to get more screen. From doing episodic work on ‘Law and Order’ to having a small role in ‘Narc’, last year Ortiz gained his biggest role opposite Jamie Foxx and Colin Farrell in ‘Miami Vice’, but will gained some fans when they see him play salsa singer Willie Colon opposite Marc Anthony’s Hector Lavoe in ‘El Cantante’. Later this year, Ortiz will appear with Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe in ‘American Gangster’ and then switch genres when he plays a sheriff in the sci-fi film, ‘Aliens Vs Predators 2’. Next year, Ortiz will work with Colin Farrell again in the cop film, ‘Pride and Glory’.
Who can forget Jay, the trash-talking womanizer in The 40-year-Old Virgin? Romany Malco who began his career as a rapper in the rap group The College Boyz, made his tv debut immortalizing another rapper on the small screen--mc hammer--in VH1'S BIOPIC –Too Legit: The MC Hammer Story, and since that he’s parlayed that attention into a series gig on Showtime’s Weeds. Earlier this year he had small roles in ‘Blades of Glory’ opposite Will Ferrell and ‘The Ex’ opposite Zach Braff. Malco just started shooting his next film, ‘Baby Mama’ opposite SNL’s Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Just know that when you see him on screen, Malco make you laugh in tears.
Unlike most of the cast in ‘High School Musical’, Bleu had already been in a number of films, yet ‘Musical’ put him on a higher platform than he could have ever imagine. His fame is just as high as his co-star Zac Efron. So much that Disney even created a TV film for him, ‘Jump In!’, which became the highest rated Disney Channel Original Movie of all time. That’s star power! Not only can Bleu act, but he can sing too, having a CD, ‘Another Side’, released this past May. Later this year, Bleu will reprise his role as Chad in the sequel ‘High School Musical 2’.
If you can sing as well as act and dance, then you certainly become a triple threat in the business, especially when the dance and music genres are picking up steam with the success of ‘Stomp The Yard’, ‘Step Up’, and of course, ‘Dreamgirls’. Kelley, who was last seen opposite Antonio Banderas and YaYa DiCosta in ‘Take The Lead’, elevates his status with scene-stealing performance in ‘Hairspray’. As Seaweed J. Stubbs in the film, Kelley shows the fans that Travolta isn’t the only one that can bust a move. Next up for Kelley is ‘Party Up’, in which he says is, ‘like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” crossed with “House Party”.
Jill Marie Jones
When all know who JMJ is, but does the film world? Probably not. Since leaving the long-running CW series,’Girlfriends’, after six seasons, Jones has been working hard to reinvent herself in the film world. She has three films already done, with ‘Redrum’ opposite Joe Torry, Kenny Young, and Terri Vaughn, and ‘Perfect Christmas’ with Terrence Howard, Queen Latifah, Morris Chestnut, and Gabrielle Union slated for release this year. She recently got cast opposite Jessica Simpson and Vivica A. Fox in the comedy film, ‘Major Movie Star’, where she’ll play Simpson’s fellow Marine recruit and best friend.
Not yet 11 years old, Nash has been acting since the age of 7 when she appeared on episodes of ‘Half & Half’, ‘7th Heaven’, and ‘My Wife and Kids’; but folks didn’t really get to see her full potential until she belted out some songs on "Showtime at the Apollo", at the 2003 Essence Awards, and as Young Fantastia in the TV film, ‘Life is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story’. Nash is co-managed by the legendary Suzanne de Passe, former President of Motown Records. Later this year, the film world will get to see her sing in the musical drama ‘August Rush’ with Freddy Highmore, Terrence Howard, Kerri Russell, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
With so many films out there, you hardly hear about the producers unless they are successful like Jerry Bruckheimer or Joel Silver. Female producers are not a rarity. They just don’t get much attention; but let us tell you about Effie Brown. She started out as an intern on ‘The Five Heartbeats’, worked her way up to be a line producer on numerous films such as ‘Spark’, and ‘Desert Blue’, and has been producing films since. A few years ago, Brown produced the HBO film, ‘Everyday People’. Coming up for Brown is the indie film, ‘Rocket Science’, which was shown this year at Sundance and won a directing award. Later this summer, Brown will start working on her first of two films starring Mos Def, ‘Bury Me Standing’, and ‘Bobby Zero’.
Newcomers get noticed simply because they are fresh faces to the business. They have no off-screen baggage, and no established persona. They just wow you with their performance. When it comes to Tasha Smith, folks like say, “I hated her!”, but in a good way, after watching her give a tremendous performance as the ‘evil’ mom in Tyler Perry’s ‘Daddy’s Little Girls’. Previous seen on television with guest appearances on TV shows like ‘The Steve Harvey’, ‘The Parkers’, “Second Time Around’, and ‘Girlfriends’, Smith will next be seen on the big screen opposite Janet Jackson and Malik Yoba in the role of Angela in Tyler Perry’s ‘Why Did I Get Married’, which comes out this Fall.
Rainforest Films (Rob Hardy & Will Packer)
No other production company has made a move to step their game up like Rainforest Films. With Will Packer serving as the producer, and Rob Hardy as the go-to-guy director, they came from nowhere and made some noise when their small film, ‘Trois’, despite negative reviews, made over $1 million at the box office. After the subsequent films, ‘Trois 2: Pandora’s Box’ and ‘Trois 3: The Escort’, Hollywood started to take notice when they did ‘The Gospel’ featuring Idris Elba, Boris Kodjoe and a multiple of Gospel singers, but they really grabbed the attention of many when ‘Stomp The Yard’ took the box office by surprise and beat ‘Dreamgirls’ (when it went wider) to take the #1 opening and make over $60 million dollars overall. They also produced the straight-to-DVD film, ‘Motives 2’, featuring Vivica A. Fox. Separately, Packer is producer of the upcoming film, ‘This Christmas’, with Lauren London, Regina King, Nia Long, Idris Elba, David Banner, and Laz Alonso. Together, they will start production on their next film, ‘Three Can Play That Game’, the sequel to ‘Two Can Play That Game’, with Vivica A. Fox as the lead.
Marcus Carl Franklin
This little youngster made quite an impression when he played a young Ruben Santiago Hudson in the HBO film, ‘Lackawanna Blues’. That film starred S. Epatha Merkerson, Mos Def, Macy Gray, Terrence Howard, and was executive produced by Halle Berry. Later this year, Franklin will make his film debut opposite playing of all people, the legendary Bob Dylan, in ‘I’m Not There’ with Cate Blanchett, Christian Bale, and Richard Gere all playing the same character. He will also be seen opposite Mos Def and Jack Black in the comedy, ‘Be Kind Rewind’.
When it comes to horror films, there are so many new faces but they never stand out because they end up dead in the end. But for Lyric Bent, his status is only getting better and better. As one of the few cast members to stay alive and appear in most of the ‘Saw’ films, Bent has seen his character Commander Rigg have more to do and with ‘Saw IV’ coming up, it seems that his role will be leading than supporting.
Special Mention: Idris Elba
The list couldn’t be complete without mentioning the work that Idris Elba has put in this year. Yes, most of us will always know him as Stringer Bell from HBO’s The Wire, but since Elba has left the show, more than three years ago, he’s been trying to shed that image. So far, he’s starred opposite Gabrielle Union in ‘Daddy’s Little Girls’, starred opposite Oscar Winner Hilary Swank in ‘The Reaping’, fought off the dead in ’28 Weeks Later’, and will later be seen in ‘American Gangster’ with Denzel Washington, and ‘This Christmas’ with Nia Long, Regina King, Mekhi Phifer, and Sharon Leal. Upcoming projects include the horror remake of ‘Prom Night’, the Guy Ricthie film, ‘RocknRolla’ with Thandie Newton, and ‘The No. 1 Detective Agency’ with Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose.
If there are any folks you think we may missed out on, send your comments to the Editor, Wilson@blackfilm.com
Faces of Tomorrow 2006
Shining Stars of 2005
Faces of Tomorrow 2004
Faces of Tomorrow 2003