Leading Men of 2016
Recently I wrote about young black women finally getting quality roles in mainstream media. I never want to omit black men from the conversation of representation because they are equally as important. There are many vehicles where black men are killing it but on the indie front, carefree and slice of life narratives still don't include them. Also, studio projects never really center men of color in light-hearted fare or non-musical roles. So, I present to you a list of actors who would be perfect leading men in the quintessential independent film or studio feature film, more specifically rom-coms (you know what we like!). Also, I pitch some ideas I feel would best utilize each actor's best qualities.
older star that recently broke my heart. He looks like Gucci Mane, if Radric Davis were born in a suburb in Massachusetts. His aesthetic screams star of studio rom-com directed by a beautiful black woman of course.
Pitch: Fade In. Mamoudou plays down on is luck writer Cameron Bell. He gets a job as a staff writer on a once successful show on the cusp on cancellation. It's leading lady is going through a lot on top of her pending unemployment. Cameron finds inspiration in the person he learns to be Zora Brooks (Samira Wiley).
Pitch: Mid-life. Wyatt Cenac as a cynical college professor, Dr. Lowry, who encounters an older undergrad that changes his perspective and his life. Sanaa Lathan stars opposite Cenac as Jennifer Foster who is continuing her education after an adventurous life.
Pitch: Home. Glover stars a silver-spoon fed bachelor in the midst of an existential crisis. On his journey across the world he meets a refugee in search of a place to call home. Amber Riley portrays Gabi, a free spirit with a lot of burdens. The story takes place across many contents and explores the themes of penance and safety in the global black diaspora.
Pitch: Out of Order. After some truly dismal relationships Jarvis Lowe (Edwin Hodge) decides to only date women alphabetically. If he completes the alphabet with no success he vows to give up on love. Half-way through the list, he meets the beautiful and brilliant, Alanna Watkins. This meeting turns his plan on it's head. If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans, right?
Pitch: The Mixtape. Do you ever wonder about the poor women who had to endure bad music and footed the bill for now flourishing rappers back in the day? Successful rapper Jaden 'Atlas' Winters is on the cusp of greatness but life forces him to make amends with his first love and jilted lover Jayla (Zoe Kravitz). Now J is a successful music writer and Atlas's only hope.
Pitch: Peace. Small-town transplant Malcolm Drew buys his first home and starts his new career. Life gets strange when he is haunted by the sweetest ghost. Can he help her discover why her spirit lingers or will he fall in love with her? Zazie Beetz stars opposite Hodge.
Don't you love when rappers act? It's usually a seamless transition whereas actors trying to mount musical careers always leave a bad taste in our mouths. Rapping is very theatrical and narrative in form so emoting isn't that much of a stretch. Nonetheless, I think Chance the Rapper-Chancellor Bennet- would be the perfect addition to an independent film. He is free-spirited, lovable, and weird. By channeling himself, he is definitely leading man material.
Pitch: Bars. It's 1996 and music is the world to Brandon Carpenter. He lives it and breathes it which leads to him enlisting his cousin and his sister's best friend to form a band. Tequan Richmond and Kiersey Clemmons co-star.
H.R Belser is a freelance writer and quirk aficionado. Narratives about love and comedy are her favorites but she longs to see racial diversity in all media. If you are looking for her, she is currently working on her first web series or tweeting a zinger. Follow her on twitter @unicorinkk.