Tatyana Ali (Stacey Wayne)
As 2010 comes to a close, this year has been a busy one for Tatyana Ali. Her production company, HazraH Entertainment, now has two shows under its belt, both starring Tatyana: the BET web series, “BUPPIES,” which has garnered over 5 million views to date and the TV One sitcom executive produced by Martin Lawrence, Bentley Evans and Raphael Saadiq, “Love That Girl!,” which previewed in January 2010 to stellar ratings and will return for a full twenty-six eipsode season in January of 2011. She continued her duties as host of TV One Access, the number one rated show on the network, and moviegoers watched her on the silver screen in the Guillermo del Toro production, Mother and Child, alongside Naomi Watts and Samuel L. Jackson. On top of that, she was an NAACP Image Award Nominee for the “Best Actress in a Daytime Drama” for her role as “Roxanne” on The Young and the Restless.
Tatyana Ali is a Broadway-trained actress, singer, activist and graduate of Harvard University. Audiences best recognize the New York native as “Ashley”, the youngest in the Banks household on NBC’s hit comedy, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” which earned her numerous accolades including: the NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Youth Actor” and the 1995 and 1997 Hollywood Reporter Young Star Award for “Best Actress in a Comedy Series”. Now in worldwide syndication, Fresh Prince has secured Tatyana Ali’s place in pop culture history.
Tatyana has since appeared in numerous films, including: Paramount Pictures’ Kiss the Girls, starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd; Sony Pictures’ The Brothers with Morris Chestnut and D.L. Hughley; famed Japanese director Takeshi Kitano’s English-language gangster film, Brother, a Sony Pictures Classics film, and Jerry Bruckheimer’s Glory Road. Nora’s Hair Salon II, the follow up to 2002’s Nora’s Hair Salon, aired on BET and was one of the highest rated movies in the network’s history.
Tatyana Ali’s voice hit the airwaves in 1998 when she recorded her debut album, “Kiss the Sky”, under Epic/MJJ. The hit single, “Daydreamin’”, earned Tatyana a gold record, and the follow-up single, “Boy You Knock Me Out”, went silver in the U.K., earning Tatyana the coveted opening act spot for both *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys on their world tours. In 1999, Tatyana paid homage to “Sesame Street,” the kids’ show that propelled her television career, by recording “Precious Wings” for “The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland” soundtrack. The recording won the Grammy for “Best Musical Album for Children”.
An inspiration to her millions of fans, this National Black Caucus of State Legislatures’ Visionary Award recipient began canvassing the country as a surrogate for Barack Obama in November 2007, speaking to college students and minority youth about the importance of voting. To bring attention to the Senator’s presidential campaign, she sang in the Emmy-winning Internet music video, “Yes We Can”, featured along with will.i.am, John Legend, Herbie Hancock, Kate Walsh, Nick Cannon and Scarlett Johansson. The video has received more than 25 million views on You Tube to date. She also appeared in the follow-up will.i.am video, “It’s a New Day,” which premiered on The Oprah Winfrey Show following Obama’s win. Tatyana continues her advocacy work as spokesperson for the Millennium Momentum Foundation, an organization dedicated to educating and professionally developing young people for leadership roles that will impact their communities. This year, she has also traveled the country as the host of the United Negro College Fund’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities Empower Me Tour.
Clifton Powell (Lester Wayne)
Clifton Powell, a native of Washington D.C., started his acting career at Workshops for Careers in the Arts, a professional program designed to train aspiring young artists. He is also a graduate of Emerson College with a B.S. in Speech and Education. Clifton has won two “Best Actor” theater awards from the NAACP for his lead role in “The Talented Tenth” and for his supporting role in “The Fabric of a Man”; he also won “Best Actor” at the American Black Film Festival South Beach for his role in the film “Civil Brand”. Clifton was also nominated for “Best Cast Ensemble” for the movie “Ray”.
Clifton has over 200 IMBD credits. Clifton is currently working on several projects including, “Army Wives”, “Boondocks”, upcoming movie “Thirty-Five and Ticking” and his own feature film, “Rain”. Directorial work include “Jada”, stage play “Man of Her Dreams” and stage play “Stranger In My House”.
Clifton’s most recent endeavor is the formation of his production company “523 Pictures, Inc.” His first project is currently titled “Teacher’s Touch”, “A Showtime Original Movie”. In addition, Clifton teaches acting classes as well as private coaching as his schedule permits.
Leslie Mills (Rebecca Smith)
Originally from Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky, and now based in Nashville, Tennessee, Leslie began studying theatre, music and dance throughout her formative years. She got her start in music as a songwriter and recording artist in New York, and was signed as the first writer to Paul McCartney’s publishing company’s pop division of MPL, along with Atlantic Records until 2004. Leslie received an Emmy nomination for the original song “On My Own”, which appeared on the CBS daytime drama The Guiding Light, and began recording her songs for film & soundtracks like White Oleander, What A Girl Wants, and Barbie of Swan Lake. Along with writing and co-producing for her own album, she co-wrote the single “Just Like Love” for the multi-platinum artist Peter Cetera along with ‘Rule the World’ for his album A Perfect World.
After leaving Atlantic records, she continued to write and perform songs for film and television credits including Las Vegas (TV), Just My Luck, MyScene Goes Hollywood, Everything You Want, My Best Friend’s Girl, Barbie and The Three Musketeers, among others. Leslie continued to study acting as time permitted and began working as a Voice Over actor including multiple commercials for McDonald’s and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.
She worked with the musical artist Yanni for several years as a featured vocalist and songwriter, and was part of two PBS specials and a U.S., Mexico, and Canadian tour for the project called Yanni Voices.
In the spring of 2010, Leslie returned to studying & pursuing acting. This year she has been in various commercials, print, Voice overs, short films, and is starring in three feature films to be released in 2011.
Mister Jones (Dennis Luther)
Born in Philadelphia, PA, and a former stunt double for Wesley Snipes, Mister’s acting career began to flourish as a member of the Mojo Ensemble theater company where he portrayed Moses Blues in Judi Ann Mason’s award-winning play “Indigo Blues. He was awarded an L.A. Weekly Award and The Drama Logue Award for “Best Original Music” for scoring and playing his saxophone in the production. Mister also holds an NAACP Award for “Best Supporting Actor” for his portrayal of Randall in Matthew Witten’s original play “Washington Square Moves”. His many television appearances include “Martin”, “In The House”, “ER” and a recurring role as the henchman Ronnie on “Beverly Hills 90210”. Mister’s film credits include portraying Pastor Dennis Luther in 23RD PSALM, Kenny Curtis – opposite Antonio Fargas and Nia Peeples – in THE RIFF and Whack in JACKED. Mister Jones is also the CEO and a musician in the Right Hand Rule Band.
Markhum Stansbury, Jr. (Rev. John Smith)
A former Disney/ABC Screenwriting Fellow, Markhum Stansbury, Jr. hails from Memphis, TN. Markhum won “Best Actor” in the San Diego Black Film Festival for his portrayal of Detective John Smith in the feature 23RD PSALM. He discovered he was an actor after enrolling in an acting class while searching for an easy “A” and relief from a double major in government and economics at Georgetown University. Markhum’s professor felt that he had talent worth developing but he had his sights set on law school. After taking another acting course and receiving similar
encouragement, Markhum did his first play, “Adrienne Kennedy’s Funny House of a Negro”, in which he played the African dignitary Patrice Lumumba. After doing the play he went on to win The Kreeger Award, Georgetown’s Oscar. Needless to say, Markhum changed majors (English/Fine Arts), put law school on hold and decided that it would be better to pretend to be a lawyer than to actually be one.
Madelyn Cline (Maya Smith)
Madelyn Cline was born on December 21, 1997 in Charleston, SC. She began her career as a model at the age of ten in New York City. Since then she has modeled for T-Mobile, American Girl as well as many others. Madelyn has performed in many commercials, including Swanson’s Stuffing, Nintendo Wii and T-Mobile before she began to think seriously about pursuing a acting career. Her favorite actresses are Audrey Hepburn and Meryl Streep.
Besides acting, Madelyn is active in her local church, loves to travel and explore new places, read, cook and skateboard. She loves playing with her friends and her dog Sidney.
Jason Burkey (Sam)
Jason has been acting for most of his life. He grew up performing in the theatre and has studied the art of improv on various stages. Since graduating from college in 2007, he has left the stage and has transitioned into acting for film and television. Jason has starred in such shows as Coffeeteria, a show being produced for LifeWay Ministries and Alumni, a dramatic series that aired on the new Halogen TV network. He has also recently worked on three feature films that are scheduled for theatrical release in 2011: October Baby (starred in with John Schneider), Losers Take All (principal part with Adam Herschman) and For The Glory.
Rodrikus Springfeld (Rowe)
Rodrikus is a native of Jackson, TN. Previous film credits include The Last Castle, The Crossbone Clique, and Country Strong. He has performed in several commercials (“Captain D’s”, “Direct Insurance”, “Shoney’s”) and music videos (Vince Gill, The Goads). On stage Rodrikus has performed with the Tennessee RepertoryTheatre, Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and People’s Branch Theatre. Rodrikus is co-founder and executive director of Griot Theatre Ensemble. He also serves as business manager for Dream 7 Theatre and is a board member for the Shades Black Theatre Festival. Rodrikus is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.