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Black Talents In Front Of & Behind The Camera On ‘House Of Cards’ You May Want To Know…

Black Talents In Front Of & Behind The Camera On 'House Of Cards' You May Want To Know...

It’s not a “black show” but it’s a very good one, and I recommend you watch it – those with Netflix accounts (if you don’t have a Netflix account, you’d have to sign up for one – it’s only $8 a month – and check out the strong work that is House Of Cards, the on and offline film rental and streaming company’s original series, set to compete with premium cablers like HBO and Showtime).

I also mention it because you should know that there’s one prominent black character in the series; he’s not one of the *stars* of the drama, but he features significantly enough, and his character definitely has an impact on the overall narrative, that he deserves mention. 

His name is Mahershala Ali (above-right, with director David Fincher and star Kevin Spacey). You may or may not recognize the name; his face may be more immediately familiar. But he’s been around, on screen, for about a decade, starting out as a series regular on Crossing Jordan in the early 2000s, as well as The 4400, Treme, and Alphas, on the small screen. On the big screen, he had roles in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Predators and will be seen in the upcoming The Place Beyond the Pines.

In House Of Cards, he plays a character named Remy Danton, who works as a lobbyist for a natural gas company. He used to work for Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey, the star of the show, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Majority Whip who hatches a rather complex plot to eventually bring down the new president and gain power for himself). Remy Danton still uses his connection to the powerful, scheming, Machiavellian Francis Underwood, often in his lobbying work, as both Francis and his just as calculating, icy wife Claire Underwood (played beautifully by Robin Wright) are often dependent on Remy’s money, from the natural gas company he’s a lobbyist for.

To say much more would be to ruin the various surprises, twists and turns that come from one episode to the next.

I should also mention that Carl Franklin directed at 2 of the 13 episodes – episodes 10 and 11.

I watched all 13 episodes this weekend (binge-watching as they call it), and really enjoyed the work, which features top-notch talent in front of and behind the camera, from the aforementioned cast (and there are others) to David Fincher behind the camera, based on an already strong original British program, reworked to reflect USA politics and values.

It’s a smart, well-designed, entertaining, revealing look at Washington politics and one man’s relentless quest for power, full of intrigue, wit, drama, sex and some violence, and several great one/two-liners you might find yourself quoting. 

You’ll also find Curtiss Cook in about 3 episodes, playing Congressman Terry Womack, the head of the Congressional Black Caucus. And Reg E. Cathey appears in also about 3 or 4 episodes, playing the owner of Francis Underwood’s favorite rib joint, which he frequents. They’re akin to old friends, seemingly loyal to one another, but there’s obviously still that class difference. 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very much a lily-white show (what’s new, right?), but it’s still worth a watch, and not only because there are a few black actors in it in peripheral roles. But of all those mentioned, Mahershala Ali has the plumpest part. There’s even a scene where he propositions Claire Underwood, his former boss’ wife. But you’ll have to watch the series to get a rounded look at how and why that scene makes sense.

So check it out… 

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I feel it’s far from a lily-white show. there a lots of black characters. Besides the ones already mentioned, there is a black woman who is the chief of staff for Underwood’s democratic rival for president. Also, the chief of police and mayor of DC both. Also, various people like the group of students in the think tank that created the education bill; several of them were black. News anchors, film crews, etc. Positions that are probably mostly filled by white people in real life. it’s very refreshing to see. So, maybe it is a lily-white show in one sense, but there are plenty of brown faces on the show.


…let’s not forget about the Secret Service Agent in episode 13, season 2, about 24 minutes into the show played by Darnell Henderson. We expect great things from that guy!

Samir Jefferson

Correction – It's not a lily white show any time money-law man Remy is a black man. (A handsome, chocolate one, at that.)

And the CBC leader and owner of his favorite rib spot — and at least one of the NC set? All black.

Good grief SMH.

But yes it's a fine show. I'm onto eps 5.

Tahir Jetter

don't you be spoiling the series, TAMBAY


I've watched six episodes so far. I can't wait to get to the other 7. Thanks for pointing out that Carl Franklin is directing two episodes. I peeped IMDB before watching the show and noticed that as well. I was happy to see the brother from "Crossing Jordan". That's when I first saw him. He's only had two scenes so far in the first six episodes, but hopefully his role expands. I don't know if you want to mention Tawny Cypress of "Heroes" (and recent Page Six gossip) fame. She's of mixed heritage. Finally, I'm glad you pointed out the class difference between Freddy and Francis. The show is really good at these subtle commentaries and the obvious difference between Francis' status in this world and that of his favorite BBQ restaurant's owner is fascinating. I admit that when I saw Reg E. Cathey (aka Common, Sr.) in the credits, I expected him to be involved in the politics storyline based on how good he was playing Carcetti's number one guy in The Wire.

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