A little bit ago, I received an email from a young but estalished indie filmmaker (won’t say who), with 4 feature films on his resume (docs and scripted narratives) – 2 that we’ve covered on S&A in the last couple of years – with the following request, verbatim:
I’m wondering if you know of any good young established black actors who could play 19 years old? I’m developing a project and the lead is 19, male, coming of age, learning what it takes to become a man before becoming a champion. It’s an indie film and I need someone who can carry a film on his back, drama, comedy, physical stuff too. Let me know if you have any ideas of who I should be looking at.
I thought about his question for a little bit, but realized how difficult it was for me to come up with names that fit his criteria – established black actor, can play 19, and can carry a film.
I was stumped, believe or not, as the names that immediately came to me where primarily musicians who’d turned to acting (like Bow Wow and Chris Brown); but surely there are others, and I’m just blanking on names, like Michael B. Jordan, or Brandon T. Jackson, Evan Ross (all in their mid-20s), or even Jaden Smith (but can he play 19? And would he even be interested in doing a small indie drama?). Can Lance Gross or Mehcad Brooks play 19? Chadwick Boseman?
I also thought maybe the filmmaker would have more luck looking at theater/stage actors.
As we’ve addressed in previous posts, this speaks to a lack of young, up-and-coming black actors who are being groomed to assume the roles left vacant by the aging older black actors.
But I told the filmmaker that I could post his request here, and see what names you folks mention that you think will fit his criteria, and he agreed to let me do that; so here ya go.