Monday, May 2, 2011

Betcha Didn't Know...?

Some of the most notable names from the dawn of film and television are of Latino descent. Here are some of them.

In this edition, some Latinos who have often played by and are often assumed to be strictly African Americans.

Faizon Love (1968- ), born Langston Faizon Santísima, is an actor and comedian. He is best known for roles in the films Friday, Elf and Couples Retreat. He was born in Santiago de Cuba, Santiago de Cuba Province, Cuba and raised in San Diego, California, U.S.A. and Newark, New Jersey, U.S.A. He got his start as a stand-up comedian. His motion picture debut Bebe's Kids had him providing the voice of late comedian Robin Harris. Harris died before production began and Love replaced him with an accurate impression. At the time, he was only 23 years old. He then had a role in The Meteor Man starring Robert Townsend. Townsend then cast him (alongside Reagan Gómez-Preston, below) in a co-starring role on his sitcom "The Parent 'Hood. He followed up this role with a breakout performance as the drug dealer Big Worm in the 1995 film Friday. Follow-up films have included Elf, Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, Money Talks, Wonderland, The Fighting Temptations, Idlewild and 3 Strikes (with Meagan Good, also below).

Reagan Gómez-Preston (1980- ), born Reagan Preston Gómez al estilo latino in Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. to a Puerto Rican mother and an African American father. Her family then moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she was enrolled in acting, dancing, and singing lessons. Thereafter, the family moved to Los Angeles, California so that she could pursue an acting career. She made a name for herself on the Robert Townsend television series "The Parent 'Hood" as Zaria Peterson. Other TV credits include "One on One," "Love Inc." and "The Amanda Show." She is a writer of feature films, with her own business and production company. She is currently in the animated series "The Cleveland Show" as Roberta Tubbs, Cleveland's stepdaughter.

Rubén Santiago-Hudson (1956- ), born in Lackawanna, New York, U.S.A., is an actor, playwright, screenwriter and director. Born to a Puerto Rican father and an African American mother, he can currently be seen as Captain Roy Montgomery in the ABC series "Castle." His film credits include Coming to America, Bleeding Hearts, The Devil's Advocate, the 2000 remake of Shaft, Domestic Disturbance, Winning Girls Through Psychic Mind Control, American Gangster, Honeydripper, The Invention of Lying and Mr. Brooks. His television credits include appearances on "Amen," "Life Goes On," "Another World," "Dear John," "New York Undercover," "Michael Hayes," "Spawn," "Law & Order" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." A veteran stage actor, he has appeared on the Broadway stage in Jelly's Last Jam, Gem of the Ocean and Seven Guitars (the last two plays written by August Wilson). It was for the last play that he received the 1996 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Play. He wrote Lackawanna Blues, an autobiographical play in which he portrayed himself and some twenty different characters from his past, which was produced in New York. He adapted it for a highly acclaimed, award-winning 2005 HBO film, in which the parts were played by different people, that won him the Humanitas Prize and earned Emmy and Writers Guild of America Award nominations. He played Freddie Cobbs in the movie. He lives in New York and has four children.

Meagan Good (1981-), born Meagan Monique Good in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A., is an actor. Her grandparents were of Puerto Rican, Bajan and African American, Jewish and Cherokee heritages, respectively. She began her acting career around the age of four or five. When she was thirteen, she was cast in her first film in the 1995 hit Friday. She then gained recognition for her performance as troubled teen Cisely Baptiste in Kasi Lemmons' critically acclaimed 1997 film Eve's Bayou, which earned her two award nominations, including her first NAACP Image Award nomination. From 1999 to 2003, she appeared as Nina on Nickelodeon's hit show "Cousin Skeeter." Other film credits include 3 Strikes, House Party 4: Down to the Last Minute, Biker Boyz, Deliver Us From Eva, D.E.B.S., The Cookout, You Got Served, Venom, Brick, Roll Bounce, Waist Deep, Stomp the Yard, One Missed Call, The Love Guru and Saw 5. Good's most recent role was in the film The Unborn with Gary Oldman and Odette Yustman-Annable.

J. August Richards (1973- ), born Jaime Augusto Richards III, in Washington, District of Columbia, U.S.A., is an actor. He is perhaps best known for his portrayal of vampire hunter Charles Gunn on the WB cult television series "Angel." His parents emigrated to the United States from Panamá. He grew up in Bladensburg, Maryland, right outside Washington, D.C. He attended the Visual and Performing Arts program at Suitland High School in Suitland, Maryland and the University of Southern California on a theater scholarship. His acting career began when he was spotted by a casting director. This resulted in him getting a guest star role on"The Cosby Show" as Vanessa's boyfriend Roy. Other guest appearances would come later on shows such as "Grey's Anatomy," "The Mentalist," "The West Wing," "The 4400," "The Practice," "Chicago Hope," "Any Day Now" and "Nash Bridges." On stage, he played a rapping bike messenger who believed he is an alien abductee in the Mark Taper Forum production of Tina Landau's play Space brought him additional recognition. Feature film credits include Why Do Fools Fall in Love? and Good Burger. He gained a starring role in the first season of "Angel" as Charles Gunn, a street-wise vampire hunter-turned-attorney. His character quickly became one of the most popular in the series. He has so far been featured in four series as an attorney (in addition to "Angel," "Law & Order: Conviction," "CSI: Miami," and "Raising the Bar").

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