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Friday, February 24, 2006

Black History Month Part 4

It's been an extraordinarily long week. 14 hours a day with the move and then home to try to work, and TRY is the operative word here. It also seems that no matter how much exercise one does before a move one is inevitably sore in places that one didn't know existed. hehe

The weather has been awesome, it's been about 75 - 80° during the days.

Here's the final section of Actor Highlights for Black History Month!

Dave Sexton (Naboo Guard - TPM) - Is fairly new to the game as far is easy-to-come-by information is concerned but he does have a game card "Naboo Guard" from the Star Wars Collectible Card Game!

Cree Summer (voice of Luminara Unduli - Clone Wars; voice of Princess Kneesaa - Ewoks animated series) - Born on July 7, 1969 in Southern California to actor/activist Don Francks and to dancer Lili (Red Eagle) but neither parent wanted Cree to be raised in the Los Angeles environment.
So, Francks, who had fallen in love with a Plains Cree reserve (reservation) in Saskatchewan, Canada called Red Pheasant, decided that he would move his family up to the reserve and live. Francks built his own mud house and that is where Summer lived for at least the first six years of her life but the Canadian Government found out they were living there tax-free and told them they had to move. So the family lived on a converted school bus, then a horse stable and then a commune called the Music Church. During this time Francks and his family would travel to North Battleford to the Bestburough Hotel for a bath, once a month. Summer didn't start school until the fourth grade.

Summer recalls having two albums which inspired her while growing up on Red Pheasant: Zoot allures by Frank Zappa and Motorcycle Michael by Lotti Golden. She was also inspired by the native Cree Pow Wow songs but also had Aretha Franklin and Dinah Washington when she spent summers with her grandmother.

Summer, with the help of her father Don Francks (voiced Umwak the Dulok Shaman in Ewoks (1985-1986) and voiced different characters in Droids), started voice-over acting and joined her first band at the age of thirteen then attended the Toronto High School for the Performing Arts until the age of sixteen (she dropped out). Two years later she moved to Los Angeles where she has lived ever since. She has put out several albums and continues to act.

Roger Guenveur Smith (voice of Bao-Dur in KOTOR II) was born on July 27, 1959 in Berkeley, CA to lawyer/New Frontier Democratic Club founder/Honorable Judge Sherman Smith Sr. and dentist Dr. Helen Smith both of whom were active with the NAACP as well as the NFD. Smith has a brother, Judge Sherman Smith Jr., and bother were raised in Los Angeles during the height of 50's and 60's civil rights struggles.

Smith starting acting in grammar school, his first experience was reading the first fifteen pages of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer for a speech contest. But he continued acting throughout high school and into college.

Smith attended Occidental College in Los Angeles where he was an American Studies major. After graduating he earned a doctorate in American Studies (History Phd) from Yale University in New Haven, CT. It was only on a lark that Smith auditioned for Yale's Drama School and gained admission. His classmates were Angela Bassett and John Turturro. Smith was also a Thomas J. Watson Fellow at the Keskidee Arts Centre in London, England.

Smith has done several live stage productions and is most well-known for his portrayal of Huey P. Newton (black activist) in a one-man show that he toured with and garnered outstanding reviews. Smith also wrote and directed the show, called A Huey P. Newton Story, the term "wrote" is used loosely here because Smith never wrote anything down, he simply memorized all the factual data and studied Newton's mannerisms and speech patterns, mixed it all together and acted the part.

His most recent projects are I Believe in America, comes out later this year, and the stage production of Inside the Creole Mafia at the Evidence Room in Los Angeles, CA.

Smith continues to work and live in Los Angeles.

Femi Taylor Ogilvy (Oola - ROTJ, ROTJse) was born in Nigeria and was adopted by film director Richard Taylor. Her brother is fellow Star Wars alum Benedict Taylor (Fighter Pilot Bravo 2 - TPM).

Taylor is an actress, dancer and a singer who was trained at the London School of Contemporary Dance and at the Alvin Ailey School in New York. One of her first roles was that of Tantomile in the 1981 original London production of CATS with fellow Star Wars alum Brian Blessed, who played Bustopher Jones/Old Deuteronomy in the wildly popular musical.

It was in the 90's that Taylor made a move to Australia to pursue acting. Both Taylor and her brother have made numerous convention appearances.

Taylor is married to Satya Ogilvy, they have two children, Zen and Jack.

Billy Dee Williams (Lando Calrissian - ESB, ROTJ) Again, I direct you to the site for his complete bio...since most of you no doubt know quite a bit about him already.

Williams was in one of my favorite films from the 70's, Bingo Long Traveling All Stars and Motor Kings which also starred James Earl Jones.

Thanks for sticking with me this month! Attendance, as I've mentioned before, will be spotty until after the show in March. I'll try to post a little something here and there plus get some sketches out to you all!


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