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Film and Theater history teaches us, some of the best black Hollywood actors like, Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis to Phylicia Rashid have begun their successful, long-standing careers, before they hit the big screen as stage actors. Most recently, Sanaa Lathan took her talent to the stage with “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark.” Chris Rock did the same with “The Motherfucker with the Hat”. With the lack of challenging roles on the big screen or limited roles on television, the stage has proven to be the place to exercise one’s talent as an actor.
Independent Film New York (IFNY) is successfully taking their place in the entertainment industry. The company is helping to mold the next generation of actors through the. On Saturday, May 21, 2011. IFNY presented the IFNY Monologue GRAND Slam aka Battle of the Champions. CINEMATIQ Magazine was there to capture the moment.
Returning winners from previous IFNY Monologue Slams took to the stage to battle against the best of the best. Industry Judges included Tracey Moore (acting coach to music artist such as Missy Elliott, Common, Musiq Soulchild and countless others), Jackie Alexander (critically acclaimed stage director) and Rosalyn Coleman Williams (accomplished actress in film and television, has been seen in films such as “Frankie And Alice,” “Brooklyn’s Finest” and recurring roles on hit television series, “Nurse Jackie” and “Mercy.”) Also, the returning champions consisting of Dorcas Evelene Davis, Josh Hyman, Toni Seawright and Vladimi Versailes.
The event was originally host by Malik Yoba, along with Osas Ighodaro, (Miss Black USA, 2010, Model, and Actress.) However, Yoba was unable to host this year, due to shooting his new Syfy series, “Alphas.” Attika J. Torrence, IFNY founder took his place.
The competition consisted of four rounds:
ROUNDS 1: The Monologue. Actors had an opportunity to showcase their strongest monologue. One by one, each actor, lit up the stage with their outstanding performance, followed by, the judges critiquing their work.
ROUND 2: Change The Emotion. Using the same monologue from the previous round, actors were given an entirely different sentiment, location and circumstance. The audience was challenged to throw out their ideas; the host, decided the final scenarios for the actors. This round played out to be challenging for contestant, Dorcas Evelene Davis, who, was a homeless person in the first round and became a pregnant women stuck on an elevator in the second. It was reverse for Josh Hyman; he did not leave his mark on the first round, but overcame it in the second with a strong performance.
ROUND 3: Freeze Tag. Actors were given a chance to strengthen their ability to stay in the moment. It was all about improvisation. In pairs, actors continued to work off of each other. Once the host shouted, “freeze”, both actors stopped, one player leaves and is replaced with another actor, until contestant’s had their chance. Every actor was strong in this perspective rounds. It was evident that the actors were serious and on-point with their craft, evident by their outstanding performance.
ROUND 4: Famous Monologue. The final round was impressive, each actor, were to perform a famous monologue. Vladimi performed a piece by Tupac Shakur, Josh, a piece from “Pulp Fiction,” and Toni, a piece from “Precious.” The crowed raved when Davis entered, from the audience dressed as Sho-nuff from classic films, “The Last Dragon.“ Making her grand entrance from the audience, Davis was dressed in an all red karate suite, outlined with leopard design, black shades with red sneakers to match,
In the end, Josh Hyman took home the IFNY Monologue GRAND Slam Championship and Dorcas Evelene Davis took home the Audience Choice Award. It was no doubt that Hyman won for his consistency throughout the competition. Each round he was able to progressively stay on top. Managing Director, Rodney K. Hurley of the Kumble Theater of LIU, (spell out what is LIU) honored Josh with a check for $500.
In addition, to Battle of the Champions, special guest, Liza Jessie Peterson, treated the audience with a performance. Peterson is pure talent. Her use of language was funny and made a lasting impact about women in prison. Peterson’s performance put the overall event into perspective regarding social awareness and how Art can be used to inspire.
The event was fantastic and a great success, including the after-party. Some Industry folks in attendance were Reggie Scott, (Producer of the American Black Film Festival), Roxanne Jones, (Author and Founding Editor of ESPN The Magazine), and Okema T. Moore, (Managing Editor of XI Magazine.) Kudos to IFNY Founder Attika J. Torrence for an event well produced. Torrence is definitely, a key player in the game, providing a platform for actors to show-off their skills. For more information on IFNY and how one can assist with their mission, contact: Torrence at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Torrence currently teamed up with Long Island University, to begin an intensive Workshop and Lecture Series, offered by industry professionals, trained in various studies. Award-Winning Actor, Malik Yoba will be the first to teach a class this fall entitled The Working Actor. For more information, call 718.488.1364 or visit www.liu.edu/brooklyn/scs.
Also, check your local listings this summer, for Malik Yoba in the Premiere of new Syfy series “Alphas.”
Take a moment to view the Photo Journal, for this event taken by CINEMATIQ Magazine’s BROWN-ROSS.com Photography & Graphics. Additional photos will be published in the summer issue of CINEMATIQ magazine. Spring Issue, 2011 Featuring, Ava DuVernay is available for purchase at: www.cinematiqmag.com