Compiled By NAN ET Editor
News Americas, LOS ANGELES, CA, Fri. Feb. 5, 2016: Black actors, many with Caribbean roots, continue to make their mark on the movie industry in Hollywood. As the U.S. marks another Black History Month – now into its fifth day – News Americas Now features 10 black actors who you may not know have roots that stretch to the Caribbean or were born there.
1: Aldis Hodge: He has just made a big splash for his role as MC Ren in ‘Straight Out Of Compton,’ but few know that the talented actor has roots to the Dominica Hodge was born to father who is of Dominica heritage and a mother from Florida in Onslow County, North Carolina. His parents, Yolette Evangeline Richardson and Aldis Hodge, Sr., served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Hodge attends the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, although he does take breaks from attending full time due to his acting work. In 2007, Hodge was awarded the role of Alec Hardison on his twenty-first birthday on the TNT series ‘Leverage.’ In 2010, he received a Saturn Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Television for his role on Leverage (2008). Hodge played both the clarinet and the violin as a child, but as an adult his focus is on the violin. He purchased his first at the age of 18. In addition to acting, Hodge designs watches, writes and paints.
2: Naomie Harris: Naomie Harris rose to fame in 2012 for her role in ‘Skyfall,’ where she played Eve Moneypenny in the James Bond series. She was born in London to a Jamaican father and a Trinidadian mother. She showed an interest in acting from an early age and attended the prestigious Anna Scher Theatre School. Harris went on to study social and political sciences at Pembroke College, Cambridge University and after graduating from University, trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Acting success soon followed and her breakthrough film role came in Danny Boyle’s ‘28 Days Later’ (2002). Other notable projects include ‘Miami Vice’ (2006) and ‘Small Island’ (2009), for which she was named best female actor by the Royal Television Society. Harris also won fans for her role as Tia Dalma in the blockbusting “Pirates of the Caribbean” films but came to international attention came her way when she was cast as Field Agent Eve in the twenty third James Bond film, ‘Skyfall’ (2012). She is the first black actress to play Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond series. Harris’s interpretation of Moneypenny is also significantly expanded from the character’s secretarial roots. In ‘Skyfall’ (2012) she was introduced as a full-fledged MI6 field agent and an agile sidekick to James Bond. Last year she replaced Lupita Nyong’o in the role of Angela Rivera in ‘Southpaw’ (2015) after Nyong’o backed out of the project. She has been in a long-term relationship with Peter Legler Since 2012.
3: Monica Raymund: She is known as Gabriela Dawson in NBC’s drama “Chicago Fire,” but off screen, she is Monica Raymund, born to a Dominican Republic mother and a Florida father. She is a graduate of The Juilliard School. Immediately following her graduation, she went on to star opposite Tim Roth for three seasons in “Lie to Me.” During this time, she also became a founding member of The Mechanical Theatre Group, has been on faculty and co-head of the Communications Department at The Heifetz Institute and served as faculty for The Broadway Theatre Project. Raymund currently serves on the board and faculty of the Performing Arts Project; is a board member for The Hollywood Arts Organization in Los Angeles; was a producer on the Broadway production of “The Velocity of Autumn” and is the Founder/President of the theatrical production company, SISU Theatrical Productions, LLC. Her other credits include, a lead role in director Stephen Elliott’s latest feature “Happy Baby;” a supporting role in the feature “Arbitrage,” opposite Richard Gere; a starring role in the Sundance Lab musical production of “Like Water for Chocolate;” and a recurring role on “The Good Wife.” She also guest starred on the 200th episode of “Law & Order: SVU” opposite Robin Williams. Raymund won The Imagen Award this past year for leading actress in a drama. She resides in New York City.
4: Lamman Rucker: You have seen him on the daytime soap operas ‘As the World Turns’ and ‘All My Children,’ as well as on ‘The Temptations’ and in Tyler Perry’s films ‘Why Did I Get Married?,’ ‘Why Did I Get Married Too?,’ and ‘Meet the Browns.’ He is Lamman Rucker, whose roots stretch to Barbados, though he was born in Pittsburgh. His first acting role was as Martin Luther King in the 4th grade. He was in the drama club in 7th grade and then attended high school at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C. Rucker has an undergraduate degree in Information Technology and Business and a graduate degree in Education and Curriculum Development. He played basketball in college and semi-pro ball for a short time after that. Rucker is the oldest of 3 children, having a younger sister and brother. When he’s not working, he enjoys working out, playing ball, going to the theater and travelling.
5: Roger R. Cross: He has starred in hit movies like ‘X-Men 2’ (2003), The ‘Chronicles of Riddick’ (2004) and ‘24’ (2001), but did you know that Roger Cross was born in Jamaica? Cross was born on October 19, 1969 in Christiana, Jamaica. At age 11, he migrated with his parents and four siblings to Vancouver B.C., Canada. There he went on to graduate with a degree in Aviation and General Studies from Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C. He also took drama in school but in 1990 whilst waiting for a flying job he took extra work as a stunt man. After that he began studying acting seriously at the Breck Academy. The first film he was cast in was “The International Rescue” which was filmed in China, Vietnam and Burma. Since then Cross has appeared as a Secret Service agent in ‘X-Men 2’ (2003) and in ‘24’ (2001). He lives in LA and has two sons with his longtime companion, German actress Josephine Jacob.
6: Evan Parke: Born in 1968 in Kingston, Jamaica Evan Dexter O’Neal Parke is an actor, known for his role as Hayes in ‘King Kong ‘(2005), ‘All My Children’ (1970) and ‘Planet of the Apes’ (2001). Parke was raised in Brooklyn, New York, and then on Long Island. He attended Cornell University (Class of 1990) where he majored in economics.
7: Sydney Tamiia Poitier: She is the daughter of acclaimed actor Sir Sydney Pointier, making her roots to the Bahamas obvious! Sydney Tamiia Poitier was born on November 15, 1973 in Los Angeles, California. Poitier began her career of acting in the late 1990s. In 2001, she landed her first role on television in the NBC drama series ‘First Years.’ In 2003, she starred in the UPN sitcom ‘Abby.’ Later that same year, she had a recurring role in ‘Joan of Arcadia,’ where she played Rebecca Askew, the love interest of Joan’s older brother, Kevin (Jason Ritter). She was also a regular on the first season of ‘Veronica Mars.’ However, she left the show after only appearing in four episodes. In 2007, Poitier starred in ‘Death Proof’ and director Quentin Tarantino’s segment of the movie ‘Grindhouse,’ as radio DJ Jungle Julia. The next year, she had a co-starring role in the new ‘Knight Rider’ series, as FBI Agent Carrie Rivai. In 2011, she guest starred on two episodes of ‘Private Practice.’ She has been married to Dorian Heartsong since June 2012. They have one child.
8: Marsha Thomason: Marsha Lisa Thomason is an English actress who is best known for playing Nessa Holt in the first two seasons of the NBC series ‘Las Vegas;’ Naomi Dorrit on the ABC series ‘Lost,’ and FBI agent Diana Berrigan on the USA Network series ‘White Collar.’ Thomason was born in Moston, Greater Manchester to a Jamaican electronics company employee. She attended Holy Trinity Primary School in Blackley and North Manchester High School for Girls, before attending Oldham Sixth Form College to study for A levels in Media Studies, Theatre Studies, and Performing Arts. Thomason attended the Manchester Metropolitan University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. From the age of 13, Thomason attended Oldham Theatre Workshop where she was able to participate in youth theatre productions.
9: Laz Alonso: Laz Alonso is known for playing Tsu’tey in James Cameron’s science fiction film ‘Avatar’ and Fenix “Rise” Calderon in the film ‘Fast & Furious.’ Alonso is of Afro-Cuban descent. He has had roles in other films such as ‘Jarhead,’ ‘This Christmas,’ and ‘Miracle at St. Anna.’ He was the lead in the 2012 NBC drama ‘Deception’ and also played one of the main characters, Detective Billy Soto, on the 2014 NBC series ‘The Mysteries of Laura.’ Alonso began his career hosting shows on the BET network. Alonso also appeared in music videos by Toni Braxton and Aaliyah. He was born in Washington, D.C. and is an alumnus of Howard University. After graduating from Howard University with a BBA in Marketing, he had a career as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch on Wall Street before making his way into entertainment. He resides in Los Angeles.
10: Derek Luke:
He is an actor, known for ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ (2011), ‘Antwone Fisher’ (2002) and ‘Glory Road’ (2006) and recently played Malcolm Devoe, head of security for Empire Entertainment on the TV series ‘The Empire,’ where he was also Cookie’s secret love interest. Derek Luke was born in Jersey City, New Jersey to Maurice Luke, a former actor who was born in Georgetown, Guyana. He attended freshman year at Linden High School and graduated from Henry Snyder High School in 1993. Since 1998, he has been married to actress Sophia Adella Luke.