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Friday, February 10, 2006

Black History Month Part 2

The entries for February 10, 2006 in the continuing spotlight on Black actors in the Star Wars saga.

Nancy Giles (voice of Adi Gallia in Star Wars: Episode 1 - Power Battles video game)
Giles was born, July 17, 1960, and raised in Queens, New York. She was a product of the public school system graduating from Jamaica High School in 1977 and would attend Oberlin College where she graduated with a BA.

Her first acting jobs were with the Paper Bag Players and as an elf at Macy's. She worked with Second City in Chicago for three years honing her skills as a comedic actress working with the comedy troupe and at Goodman Theatre. She's had roles in several theatre productions including The Best of Second City (tour), her award-winning performance in Mayor and her one-woman show Notes of a Negro Neurotic which she also penned.

Giles has had roles in feature films including Big (1988) with Tom Hanks, Working Girl (1988) with Harrison Ford and New York Stories (1989) with Sofia Coppola. Her TV credits include The Wrong Coast (2003) with Mark Hamill, Law & Order, LA Law, China Beach, Spin City and PB&J Otter. Including a myriad of TV commercials and two video games.

She is well-known for her social commentary on CBS News Sunday Morning since 2002, has had two very popular radio shows, Jay Thomas Morning Show and Giles & Moriarty (for which she received two Gracie Allen awards) and is an adept writer on all three. She's done stand- up and lecture series as well all over the country.

She recently narrated a libretto called Suite for Human Nature which was a comic fable written by Diane Charlotte Lampert with music composed by Wynton Marsalis.

James Earl Jones (voice of Darth Vader). Most of you already know so much about this fine actor so I will redirect you to his page and you can read about his struggles and accomplishments over this lifetime.

Samuel L Jackson (Mace Windu - PT). Again, a redirection to his page on the SWAD.

Taborah Johnson (voice of Latara on Ewoks the animated series) was born in the mid 50's in Zurich, Switzerland. She has a younger brother and a younger sister in show business, her younger brother is director Clark Johnson and jazz diva Molly Johnson is her sister, respectively.

Johnson came to performing at age sixteen when a friend talked her into coming along on an audition/rehearsal for the musical Hair. Her friend did not get the part in the musical but nabbed the role Taborah based solely on her rendition of Summertime. The political nature of the role she played brought the young actress into the spotlight. Note: She was babysitter on the set of Hair to Michelle St. John the actress/singer daughter of Wayne St. John who was starring as Wayne in Hair at the time.

After her high profile run with Hair she joined singer Rick James as a vocalist in 1979. She can be heard on the famous singles Super Freak, Come and Get It and Give it to Me Baby. Johnson toured and recorded with Rick James until 1982 covering five albums. Then went on to sing backing vocals in her sister's band Infidels.In 2005 she hosted a gospel and jazz show Step It Up on Jazz.FM (CJRT in Toronto, CAN) but left the station after only two months due to allegations of racism against the station. They had told her that she had been playing to much black music.

Johnson has also done TV, Film and Radio work and has had her own radio shows on several different radio stations in Canada and currently has her own show on CFRB in Toronto from 4 to 6 pm EST on Saturdays.

Gervais Koffi was born in Bouake on the Ivory Coast of South Africa and raised in the largest city of the Ivory Coast, Abidjan, a city called the "Paris of the West Coast". Koffi started to make moves in the music realm in the late 80's when he joined several different bands that focused mainly on doing covers of other people's songs. Koffi felt that he did not want to continue this way and felt his passion and love for songwriting and original music far outweighed just wanting to perform.

By the mid nineties he'd traveled all over Africa, had been interviewed by TV, Newspapers and Radio and had become quiet well-known for his vibrant African and Latin beats with music styles from all over the continent of Africa. His idea was to bring Africa together as a whole and his music reflected his desire.

The passion in his work/singing didn't go unnoticed, one film maker, Ismael Lo, discovered Koffi during one of his songs and asked him to be in his next film called Afrique mon Afrique. This role lead him to The Foreigner which seemed tailor made for Koffi's desire to erase xenophobia across the globe.

In 1998 Koffi moved from South Africa and headed to Sydney, Australia to work his incredible bass playing, dancing and voice to the populace of Australia. He has continued his acting in Sydney and has been in Babe 2: Pig in the City (1998) and Looking for Alibrandi (2000).

Koffi has gathered talent from all over Australia and formed the African Diaspora. He is warmly welcomed and plays to sold out audiences on a regular basis.


4 comments digested to 1

1 comment:

Nerf-Herders Anonymous said...

Jedi Temple Invader

date Posted: Feb 10, 2006 8:29 PM
I'm glad that even in the world of Star Wars we can break down racial barriers and give recognition to these individuals for lending a helping hand in creating a story we all cherish.

Son of a Bith
The Cantina Corner

date Posted: Feb 10, 2006 9:18 PM
When I first saw the picture of Jedi Master Koffi Arana in the Insider I thought he was based off of Koffi Annan, leader of the United Nations. I thought it was a sly refference.

I was wrong.

Life, the Star Wars Universe and Everything

date Posted: Feb 10, 2006 9:39 PM
I'm glad that even in the world of Star Wars we can break down racial barriers and give recognition to these individuals for lending a helping hand in creating a story we all cherish.
I'd like to highlight all the people who worked on the films but nice that I got the opportunity due to a national recognition to pick out a group of people.

Koffi Annan, leader of the United Nations...
I thought it when I heard the name "Koffi Arana" Hard not to make an association with Kofi Annan. They're usually pretty sly about those references aren't they?
Gervais Koffi sounds very Star Wars-y



date Posted: Feb 12, 2006 10:28 AM
I totally agree with darthjack. It makes no sense to seperate races when nothing matters but the story/movie their made a part of!

Mace Windu-"This party's over!"
Darth Vader-"You are part of the Rebal Allience and a trader...take her away."

Those were some of my favorite lines of some of the actors you mentioned