CIVIL WRITES: 5 Brown Actors Ready To Blow


Civil Writes / March 9, 2010

So the Oscars are over. Hurt Locker put a hurting on the competition, A Single Man was criminally ignored and Mo’Nique woke up my nightmares (Whatever *Arnold Jackson shrug*). My issue isn’t with The Oscars; they invite who competes. But ya can’t compete if you’re not picked for the race. Every year there’s a waterfall of Hollywood scripts yet only leakage makes it to the back of the bus. There’s a solid class of vets capable (at the very least) of increasing brown Hollywood’s visibility. Here’s the honor roll:


Rosario Dawson

The fact that this New Yorker isn’t a Hollywood “It” chick keeps me perpetually befuddled. Though her aesthetic is ethnic (Afro-Cuban, Native American), it’s not rigid, instead effortlessly mainstream. And that’s before we touch on her judo chops––Dawson can add fresh lemon and cocktail sauce to an around-the-way filet (25th Hour, She Got Game) or feed you onion barrels of emotion (Descent, 7 Pounds).

The 30-year-old could’ve easily shared the stage with her idol Judi Dentch in Nine and set a stage fire as sexy as Penelope Cruz’s. I could even see her in Penelope’s Broken Embraces spot. 5’7 in stature, Rosy is the full Hollywood package. Sorry, Sannah.


Chiwetel Ejiofor

For over a decade Chiwetel Ejiofor (Chew-i-tel EJ-i-oh-for) has rang bells from European stages to Hollywood screens efficiently, not alarmingly. While his roots lie in the theatre, having wowed critics with mountainous portrayals of Othello and Juliet’s Romeo, he’s managed to up his stateside stock by impressing the best in front of the camera (Denzel Washington, Clive Owen––American Gangster; Inside Man, Children of Men) and behind it (Spike Lee; Speilberg, Amistad). 

A weakness in the British actor’s range has yet to rear itself. Chew could’ve replaced Matt Damon in The Informant or done the blockbuster thing as Wolverine’s Sabertooth. Since hindsight is 20/20, let’s get Mr. Ejiofor that Oscar role before 2012.


Anika Rose 

I can’t even front. I trumpet-snore slept on this blooming Rose. Completely overlooked her as Eddie Murphy’s boo in Dreamgirls. Guy confession: she didn’t hit my radar ‘til I saw her strutting around a crippled Terrence Howard in the play Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.

Perfect figure aside, the 37-year-old has significantly upped her weight by successfully scoring the three-ball––shining on American theatre’s grandest stage (Caroline), adding some good to bad television (The No 1. Ladies Detective Agency) and most monumentally proving that animation with melanin can make millions (The Princess And The Frog). Don’t think Mo’Nique would have that Oscar if Anika replaced Paula Patton or Mariah Carey in Precious. Just sayin’.


Thandie Newton

It’s been documented that this actress slash model is super selective when accepting scripts (she turned down Charlies Angels and Lucy Lui got it). That means you fools in Hollywood need to get on your jobs. Despite Ms. Newton’s subtle yet slick sultriness, her characters bite to the nerve. She left her audience baffled in Beloved, conflicted in Crash and irate in The Pursuit Of Happyness. She even added grace to Condoleeza Rice in Oliver Stone’s W.

Ignoring the irrelevant race issue, I don’t see why Thandie couldn’t have topped Verma Farmiga as George Clooney’s female equal in Up In The Air. I, though, personally think she’d be perfect for a biopic on mystical songstress Sade.


Wood Harris

I haven’t seen a Harris performance that didn’t embrace me. Rarely is theatric cool so warm. He fits seamlessly into the big budgets (Remember The Titans) and carries the smaller ones (Paid In Full). With a steely focus the Chi-Town native updated the ghetto drug czar as The Wire’s Avon Barksdale, becoming the succeeding generation’s Nino Brown.

A shame Harris is 40 and has yet to show his full spectrum as an actor. Would’ve loved to see him alongside Woody Harrelson giving us his intense portrayal of reluctant war vet Will Montgomery in The Messenger. I am looking forward to his next role as Nat “Sweetwater” Clifton, the first African-American to sign an NBA contract. I need more, though.


Which actors do you need more of?



Bonsu Thompson, The Rolling Stone 2001 “Hot Interviewer” has penned for mags like Details, XXL, Penthouse, SLAM and KING as well as notable brands such as MTV, VH1, Rocawear and Translation. Wanna keep up with the Brooklyn scribe? Follow him via