By Daralyn Jay
They are poised before the press and polished in the art of delivering the sound byte. After all, they have acquired hours of practice over the past year having appeared in what was, arguably, the most buzzed about film of 2009, Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire. Yet, they are still down-to-earth and mostly new enough to the movie business that they don’t come across as jaded. And, they are still very much affected by the roles they played and the impact the film has made on a global audience. The film’s star, Gabourey Sidibe, and several of the women playing students in the Each One Teach One classroom joined cast mate and event co-organizer Ephraim Benton in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn for “Life Is Precious,” a combination health fair, film screening and community pep rally in a neighborhood very much like the one depicted in the gritty movie.
While Precious has skyrocketed Sidibe to a guest host spot on Saturday Night Live, a regular role on the highly rated new Showtime series The Big C and a new film co-starring Lisa Bonet and Lenny Kravitz’s daughter Zoe Kravitz, the careers of the other actresses from the Each One Teach One classroom have also skipped ahead several grades.
Xosha Roquemore, a New York University Tisch School of the Arts grad, reveals that this was her first professional job out of school. Much like Joann, the character she played in Precious, Roquemore is quick with a quip and smile. To the question “what’s next for you,” she replies, “Like, tomorrow?” before explaining, “I have a bunch of TV shows I did that just started airing, so watch for those.”
By contrast, Chyna Layne, (http://neoblackcinema.com/whosinview/upcoming/weve-only-had-a-taste-of-all-that-flavor/) who played the affable Jamaican student, Rhonda, had been in a string of independent films as well as Nelson George’s Life Support before booking Precious. She has a film coming out next year titled We Are Family starring Monique Coleman from High School Musical and Lew Temple from Unstoppable. She is also a budding action heroine, trained in Filipino stick fighting. “I’m producing a film called Flowers Don’t Grow in England. It’s kind of a drama, but I play an assassin in the film. She plays with knives, so that’ll be exciting.”
Angelic Zambrana, known to audiences as Consuelo, was also an experienced film actress when she landed her role. “I had actually been making another film when I was shooting Precious. There was one day when I had to work on both sets, it was the best day of my life.” She plays the lead in her next film, sci-fi thriller The Mortician 3-D, co-starring Method Man. Filmed on location in New Orleans, the flick is billed as the first, independently made 3-D movie.
Holding both a BA and MFA in Theater from Temple University, Amina Robinson was a veteran stage actor, playing a number of musical and dramatic roles in national tours and regional theatre before taking on the role of Jermaine in Precious. She subsequently made her Broadway debut as Ali in Mamma Mia and has appeared on Law & Order. She continues the transition from stage to screen noting, “In the fall, a series called Outlaw (NBC) will premiere. I’m in the pilot episode of that.”
Life After Precious: The Girls of Each One Teach One Graduate
By Daralyn Jay