With the opening of one of this year's few Hollywood studio black cinema highlights now officially behind us – the much anticipated remake of the 1976 black cinema classic, Sparkle, which, as director Salim Akil was a "nice, small, fun movie until co-star Whitney Houston died – we thought it we would take a look at what the film's starring cast has to look forward to, in terms of projects on the horizon, post-Sparkle.
I think it's probably safe to say that the power couple behind the film (Salim and Mara Brock Akil) have little to worry about with regards to remaining employed; the 3-year production deal they signed last, with BET/Viacom, is a start, with one hit show in The Game, already on the air, and 2 more on the way – Being Mary Jane, and the Entourage-like Diggy Simmons project announced most recently. And I'm sure they'll continue to make feature films for the big screen. So we're not too worried about the Akils at this point.
But what about the cast of actors they directed in Sparkle? What's next for them all, in this rought and tough showbiz climate where black actors aren't exactly dominating our TV and film screens?
Let's take look.
– Jordin Sparks just wrapped up filming The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete directed by George Tillman Jr.. The film is a coming of age story about two boys left to fend for themselves when their mothers are taken away. Sparks plays the part of Alice and no specific details have been released regarding her character. But a quick google will turn up pictures of Sparks on set sporting a body conscious dress, high top sneakers and some large gold hoop earrings. Jordan was quoted in USA Today saying the following about her role “It has nothing to do with music. It’s an indie drama and a smaller part. But, as they say, there are no small parts in show business.” It’s quite possible we may see her third studio album as well. It had been reported that work on a third studio album had begun in October of 2010. While the debut single was released in May 2012 the album still has yet to be released.
– Derek Luke will star as Raymond Walker in Supremacy, a film directed by Deon Taylor, and also starring Evan Ross, Lela Rochon and Danny Glover. Supremacy tells the story of a Black family held hostage by white Supremist. In a recent one-on-one with Shadow and Act, Luke revealed that he would star in "‘Baggage Claim’ with Octavia Spencer and Paula Patton, “Supremacy” with Danny Glover, and then another film with Danny again . . .” I found little information about the last Danny Glover project he mentions, but we will be on the look out for it.
– Mike Epps will continue his exploits as Black Doug in the upcoming Hangover III film. In addition to Hangover he is also part of the Horror film Vipaka starring Forest Whittaker, Anthony Mackie, and Sanaa Lathan. Epps will be Anthony Mackie’s brother in a film described as a voodoo psychological horror film. As previously revealed by Lathan, Epp’s character is part of a love triangle with her and Mackie. She also stated that Epps is playing "a really dark, complicated edgy role," and that "people are gonna be so blown away by him in this movie." Given the response to Mr. Epps' work in Sparkle, and if Ms. Lathan’s assessment is correct, this could be his break-out year.
– Carmen Ejogo, prior to Sparkle, was last seen in a television show that I missed called Chaos. Did anyone else see Chaos? We won’t have to wait to long to see Ejogo again. She has two projects ready to go; I Alex Cross and The Zero Hour. I Alex Cross has been talked about quite a bit on Shadow and Act, mostly due to Ejogo’s co-star, the one and only Tyler Perry. In an interview with Shadow & Act, Ejogo mentioned working with Perry, and said the following about the film “I play his wife in the film. Its going to be very interesting to see how that film will be perceived.” Given all the chatter in the comments section, it certainly will be interesting to see how it is received. She also stated that she has high hopes for her upcoming ABC drama The Zero Hour. In it, she plays a sexy FBI agent who may have her own agenda, working with Anthony Edward to find his wife, who has been kidnapped. Expect the series to debut sometime in 2013.
– Tika Sumpter must be a model employee, for she is back at work with the Akils on their new series for BET, Being Mary Jane. Ms. Sumpter worked with them on Sparkle and the hit Series The Game. Whether her role is recurring is not yet known. In My Man Is a Loser, she plays Clarissa, the girlfriend of Mike, played by John Stamos. Sumpter revealed to Starpulse.com that "I get to kiss him, and he is everything you could want. And he is just charming… how can you not like him? Everybody loves him. He knows everybody and he has been in this business forever and he is a good kisser. Yea." The film also stars Michael Rappaport and Bryan Callen as the losers that the film title refers to. The film is expected to bow in 2013.
– Omari Hardwick, despite the resent disappointing news that he won’t be reprising his role in the Kickass, sequel has an imdb page with quite a few projects on the horizon. I, for one, cannot wait to see Ava Duvernay’s Middle of Nowhere in which he stars with Emayatzy Corinealdi. Tambay saw and reviewed the film at Sundance. If you missed it you can check it our here. He will also join the Akils on their upcoming television show Being Mary Jane, as a possible suitor for Gabrielle Union's Mary Jane. He revealed in his exclusive interview with Shadow and Act recently, that he is not in all the episodes. But that’s okay, we will take what we can get. While not announced we could finally see the previously reported Things Never Said. A film profiled on the blog most recently in June, check out a synopsis and trailer here. Hardwick, along with Sharon Leal, is attached to a psychological thriller called The Last Letter. No word on when the film will be released, but you can read more about it here. Another film that completed shooting years ago, but has yet to be released in which Mr. Hardwick co-stars, is Bolden. As previously reported by Vanessa, the director is in no hurry to release the film. Hopefully some of these unreleased films will make it to a theater near you sooner rather than later. Next up is Pure Life with Vera Farmiga and Elle Fanning. No specifics on his character have been released.
– Cee-Lo Green is keeping busy with a new season of The Voice, scheduled to start airing September 10th on NBC. In addition to his mentoring duties, he will be adding to his voice-over resume, voicing Murray the Mummy in the 3-D computer animated comedy/horror film Hotel Transylvania, which is set to premiere in late September. Others adding their vocal talent to film: Adam Sandler Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Selena Gomez to name a few. Previously Green voiced Reverend Rollo Goodlove on The Boondocks animated series. Cee-Lo will also star as Troublegum – a “very successful hip hop star” – in Can a Song Save Your Life. The film stars Keira Knightley and Adam Levine along with Mark Ruffalo. It seems Mos Def also has a role in this musician rags-to-riches tale as Ruffalo’s long time business partner in the record industry.
So, as you can see the cast and crew are all staying quite busy! The film's lackluster box office performance aside ($19 million gross thus far on a $14 production budget – meaning, marketing dollars aren't included in that figure), it gave Jordin Sparks her first big screen acting job, which has, thus far, led to further opportunities, as she'll likely continue to work in both film and music; it will go down in history as Whitney Houston's last film; it was Salim Akil's second shot at feature film directing (especially at the studio level), which means more experience to carry to future feature films; Michael Epps, known primarily as a funny-man, got to flex his dramatic acting chops on a grand stage – a performance that's being talked about; eve Cee-lo got to perform in front of the camera, and it wasn't all musical.
We'll be watching all these talents as they continue to progress.