Black Talents In Front Of & Behind The Camera On 'House Of Cards' You May Want To Know...
Photo Credit: S & A

Black Talents In Front Of & Behind The Camera On 'House Of Cards' You May Want To Know...


It's not a "black show" but it's a very good one, and I recommend you watch it – those with Netflix accounts (if you don't have a Netflix account, you'd have to sign up for one – it's only $8 a month – and check out the strong work that is House Of Cards, the on and offline film rental and streaming company's original series, set to compete with premium cablers like HBO and Showtime).

I also mention it because you should know that there's one prominent black character in the series; he's not one of the *stars* of the drama, but he features significantly enough, and his character definitely has an impact on the overall narrative, that he deserves mention. 

His name is Mahershala Ali (above-right, with director David Fincher and star Kevin Spacey). You may or may not recognize the name; his face may be more immediately familiar. But he's been around, on screen, for about a decade, starting out as a series regular on Crossing Jordan in the early 2000s, as well as The 4400, Treme, and Alphas, on the small screen. On the big screen, he had roles in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Predators and will be seen in the upcoming The Place Beyond the Pines.

In House Of Cards, he plays a character named Remy Danton, who works as a lobbyist for a natural gas company. He used to work for Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey, the star of the show, the U.S. House of Representatives' Majority Whip who hatches a rather complex plot to eventually bring down the new president and gain power for himself). Remy Danton still uses his connection to the powerful, scheming, Machiavellian Francis Underwood, often in his lobbying work, as both Francis and his just as calculating, icy wife Claire Underwood (played beautifully by Robin Wright) are often dependent on Remy's money, from the natural gas company he's a lobbyist for.

To say much more would be to ruin the various surprises, twists and turns that come from one episode to the next.

I should also mention that Carl Franklin directed at 2 of the 13 episodes – episodes 10 and 11.

I watched all 13 episodes this weekend (binge-watching as they call it), and really enjoyed the work, which features top-notch talent in front of and behind the camera, from the aforementioned cast (and there are others) to David Fincher behind the camera, based on an already strong original British program, reworked to reflect USA politics and values.

It's a smart, well-designed, entertaining, revealing look at Washington politics and one man's relentless quest for power, full of intrigue, wit, drama, sex and some violence, and several great one/two-liners you might find yourself quoting. 

You'll also find Curtiss Cook in about 3 episodes, playing Congressman Terry Womack, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus. And Reg E. Cathey appears in also about 3 or 4 episodes, playing the owner of Francis Underwood's favorite rib joint, which he frequents. They're akin to old friends, seemingly loyal to one another, but there's obviously still that class difference. 

Don't get me wrong, it's still very much a lily-white show (what's new, right?), but it's still worth a watch, and not only because there are a few black actors in it in peripheral roles. But of all those mentioned, Mahershala Ali has the plumpest part. There's even a scene where he propositions Claire Underwood, his former boss' wife. But you'll have to watch the series to get a rounded look at how and why that scene makes sense.

So check it out… 

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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