Guyana-roots actor Derek Luke, r, on the popular show, The Empire.


News Americas, LOS ANGELES, CA, Fri. May 20, 2016: The CARICOM South America-based nation of Guyana turns 50 this May – 50 years since its independence from Britain and a major celebration is being planned in country and in its Diaspora to celebrate the golden jubilee. There is no denying Guyana has produced some of the best and brightest minds globally and a few have even graced the silver screen. Here are six you should know:

1: Derek Luke

Actor Derek Luk of ‘Antwone Fisher’ fame roots extend to Guyana. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)

Derek Luke, known for roles in ‘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.  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.

2: CCH Pounder

Actress CCH Pounder of NCIS NOLA fame was born in then British Guiana. CCH Pounder (Photo by Skip Bolen/CBS via Getty Images)

This British-Guiana (now Guyana-born) actress can be seen on the popular ‘NCIS New Orleans’ on CBS. Carol Christine Hilaria (CCH) Pounder currently portrays medical examiner Dr. Loretta Wade but has years of acting under her belt, having made her debut in 1979. Pounder was educated in England and moved to the U.S. in 1970, where she attended Ithaca College. She is married to Senegalese anthropologist Boubacar Kone and has three children and six grand children.

3: Sean Patrick Thomas

Sean Patrick Thomas of ‘The Barbershop’ roots extend to Guyana.

Sean Patrick Thomas is known for his co-starring role in the 2001 film ‘Save the Last Dance,’ as well ‘Barbershop’ and ‘Halloween: Resurrection.’ He has had television role as Detective Temple Page in The District. Thomas was born in Washington, D.C. to immigrants from Guyana. He was raised in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of Cheryl, a financial analyst for DuPont, and Carlton Thomas, an engineer who also worked for DuPont. He originally intended to study law, but upon successfully auditioning for a role in the film ‘A Raisin in the Sun,’ changed directions and decided to attend New York University’s prestigious Graduate Acting Program at the Tisch School of the Arts, graduating in 1995.

4: Vanessa Lee Chester

Vanessa Lee-Chester of The Lost World: Jurassic Park fame, was born to Guyanese parents in the US.

Vanessa Lee Chester is known for her roles as Kelly in Steven Spielberg’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) and as Becky in Alfonso Cuarón’s A Little Princess (1995). Chester has also appeared in Malcolm in the Middle and The West Wing.

The star is the oldest child of Guyanese parents, and she is actually the first member of her family to be born in the United States. “Both of my parents were born in Georgetown, Guyana in South America,” she said recently. “In regards to ethnicity, my brother and I are of African American, East Indian, West Indian/Caribbean, Amerindian, with a splash Caucasian and Chinese!”

5: Marc Gomes

Actor Marc Gomes of As the World Turns and Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye fame was born in Guyana.

Marc Gomes is known for his role in As the World Turns, Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye and The Crow: Stairway to Heaven (1998). He was born in Guyana and grew up in Toronto before moving to LA. Gomes has also directed several plays and wrote and directed a short film “Stir Crazy.” As a member of The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company, Marc volunteers with underage offenders who are incarcerated in the Los Angeles Justice system. The company also works with former gang members by using theater, as a means to foster pride, self-confidence and racial tolerance.

6: Rhona Fox

Television Actress Rhona Fox was born in Guyana.

Rhona Fox has appeared in several stand in television roles including for Priyanka Chopra Quantico (ABC), as Mindy Kaling in The Mindy Project (FOX), Archie Panjabi in The Good Wife (CBS), Sarita Choudhury in Blindspot (NBC) and Reshma Shetty in Royal Pains (USA). She was born in Guyana (South America) but raised in Nassau, Bahamas, where her parents who are teachers, moved to secure a better life for her and her two older brothers, Sean and Ron. Fox’s first acting gig placed her on the set of the Rocawear 10th Anniversary commercial in August 2009, where she was directed by Spike Lee. Fox scored her first speaking role in the pilot of the ‘Untitled Wall Street Project,’ acting in a scene opposite Maggie Grace in the John Cusack-fronted drama series for CBS. She was handpicked by Martin Scorsese to be featured in the final shot of his blockbuster flick The Wolf of Wall Street, where she was directed by the iconic director himself. She also had minor roles in Law & Order (NBC) and Made in Jersey (CBS), where the director liked her name and had it added to the script for her character’s name.

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