A BLACK HOLLYWOOD STORY
By Ronke Adeyemi
Thursday, August 13, 2009.
On Saturday, I played host to the lovely Ola from Diverse Traveller where I showed her the sights of my little town in Kent, England. After my great day was over I decided to chill out and treat myself to one of my favourite films, Biker Boyz. With a stellar cast of Laurence Fishburne, Derek Luke, Larenz Tate, Tyson Beckford, Orlando Jones, Djimon Hounsou, Terrence Howard, Meagan Good and Lisa Bonet; you pretty much had the creme a la creme of Black Hollywood.
Biker Boyz is the baby of Reggie Rock Blythwood who wrote and directed the exciting action film while his wife, Gina Prince Blythewood served as a producer. With several quality films under their belts, the Blythewoods are pretty much the doyennes in African American film making.
Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, Reggie Rock Bythewood studied acting at Marymount Manhattan College. In 1990 he landed a job as a writer on A Different World where he met wife to be Gina who was also on the writing team. He went on to write for Fox's drama series New York Undercover, where he was the show's supervising producer.
He penned the script for Get On the Bus which was directed by Spike Lee and went on to write Dancing in September, a drama which stared Tichina Arnold who now stars in Everybody Hates Chris. Blythewood's directorial debut came in 2003 when he pitched Biker Boyz to the Hollywood bosses. His most recent works has been writing the script for the biopic of Biggie Smalls in Notorious which was released earlier this year.
Gina Prince Blythewood holds her own alongside her husband; her body of work includes Disappearing Acts which is based on the book by Terry McMillan and the romance, Love and Basketball which starred Sanaa Lathan and Omar Epps. Love and Basketball won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature. However her most remarkable work to date has been The Secret Lives of the Bees in which was produced by Will Smith and his wife Jada.
The Secret Life of the Bees was a hit at the box office which is not surprising considering the talent in the cast which included Queen Latifah, Alicia Keyes, Jennifer Hudson, Sophie Okinedo and Paul Bettany. On top of the she has also directed episodes of Girlfriends and Everybody Hates Chris.
Black film making has come an awful long way since the 1980s and if someone had told that an predominately Black cast would star in a Hollywood film about bikers I would have told you to shut up right now! However it looks like the Blythewoods are about to take Black film making to a completely different level.
Reggie and Gina reside in California with their two sons.
Ronke Adeyemi is a UK-based fashion writer with a background in journalism, marketing and PR. She blogs at The Musings of Ondo Lady.