JANET JACKSON (Patricia) Janet Jackson is a visionary and trendsetting, international music icon who has created some of the most innovative, electrifying and highly personal work in pop music history.
“I like to think that my future and my past meet in my present,” Janet says. “They merge to make me who I am. For half of my forty years on the planet, I’ve been an independent artist. For good or bad, I’ve made my own choices. That’s a beautiful blessing. And this is a beautiful moment to consider where I’ve been, where I’m going and, most of all, where I am now.”
In 1986, Janet Jackson exploded on the international pop music scene, enlisting Jimmy Jam/Terry Lewis to help her gain “Control.” As a child, teen and adult actress, she has acted in a variety of sitcoms and TV dramas including “Good Times”, “A New Kind of Family”, “Diff’rent Strokes”, “Fame”, “The Love Boat”, and “Saturday Night Live.” Jackson has also appeared in feature films such POETIC JUSTICE with Tupac Shakur, and NUTTY PROFESSOR II: THE KLUMPS with Eddie Murphy.
Her second album, “Rhythm Nation” added to Janet’s public persona something new: a fierce social conscience that addressed the issues of racism and societal intolerance. She dominated the Grammys with her slew of number one hits and her “Rhythm Nation” tour, the first of her career, set box office records around the world. Her superstardom was firmly established. Her first record of the nineties “Janet,” widened her musical aesthetic to include the exploration of deep and lyrical sensuality. A Rolling Stone cover photograph quickly earned iconic status. With its wall-to-wall hits, “Janet” became the biggest record of her career. “Again” a #1 single from the album, was nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award.
Later in the nineties, the “Velvet Rope” became the most introspective of her albums. Another runaway smash, it was time for Janet to fearlessly take her fans behind the “Velvet Rope” of her private thoughts, dreams and desires. The new century produced two platinum-selling successes: “All For You” and “Damita Jo,” bold ventures into her unique style of autobiographical storytelling.
“I’m proud that for twenty years people have responded to my work,” Janet says reflectively. “I’m proud to have stayed in the game and survived. And I’m proud that I’ve remained true to myself...” Janet gave us extraordinary range of her talentin “20Y.O.,”her last album. As she has done for the past two decades, she not only co-wrote the songs but co-produced the record as well. “20 Y.O.” moves ahead, even as it borrows from hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa in “Get It Out Me,” a song that, according to Jackson, deals directly with freakery.
“I’m excited—and so lucky—to have fans whose devotion has sustained me over two amazing decades,” she says. Janet is currently at work on her next album.
Jill Scott is a North Philly native who became part of the international music consciousness with the release of “Who Is Jill Scott? Words & Sounds Vol. 1”, which achieved double-platinum status and earned her NAACP Image Awards, trophies from both Billboard and Soul Train and the honor of sharing the stage with Aretha Franklin for VH1’s Divas Live. She graced magazine covers (and was voted among People’s 50 Most Beautiful for 2001), contributed editorials and blessed the national television stages of “Oprah”, “David Letterman”, “Jay Leno” and “The View.” After touring the world, she released a real, live album with some new cuts, 2001’s “Experience: Jill Scott 826+” which spawned the Grammy-nominated “A Long Walk.”
Between touring, Jill has directed a video for Hidden Beach label-mate, trombonist Jeff Bradshaw and appeared on “Sesame Street” in celebration of its 33rd year. Her original compositions were featured on the soundtracks for BROWN SUGAR, RUSH HOUR 2, DOWN TO EARTH, KINGDOM COME and the RED STAR SOUNDS compilation. Jill made her primetime sitcom debut with a four-episode run on UPN’s “Girlfriends,” starred in Showtime’s “Cave Dwellers” and crafted a book of poetry, entitled simply, “The Minutes, The Moments, The Hours” (St. Martin Press). The album “Beautifully Human,” Words & Sounds, Vol. 2, was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Album and won the Best Urban/Alternative Performance Grammy for the single “Cross My Mind.”
Jill began working on THE REAL THING in 2006, stopping during the process to appear in the Dakota Fanning movie HOUNDDOG in which she plays Big Momma Thornton, the artist who originally sang the Elvis Presley hit.
Jill has her first major starring role in TYLER PERRY’S WHY DID I GET MARRIED?
MALIK YOBA (Gavin) Malik Yoba is a well-respected actor who is perhaps best known for his role in the hit movie COOL RUNNINGS and on the popular Fox television series “New York Undercover.” Through his work in a variety of mediums, Yoba has proven himself to be an artist dedicated to raising consciousness, whether he is working as an actor, musician, inspirational speaker, playwright, or author.
Yoba has appeared in more than 20 films including COPLAND, SMOKE, BLUE IN THE FACE, HOOKED UP HARLEM ARIA, VOTE FOR ME, RIDE and DREAMING IN BLACK AND WHITE, winner of ‘Best Film’ at the 2003 Phoenix Film Festival, the comedy KIDS IN AMERICA also starring George Wendt, Rosanna Arquette and Nicole Richie, CRIMINAL starring John C. Reilly and Diego Luna and the independent feature THERE JUST MY FRIENDS.
Yoba’s television credits include a recurring role as “Ice” on the Emmy Award winning comedy series “Arrested Development” for Fox Television. He also starred on the TNT series “Bull” and NBC’s “Kingpin.” Yoba also had a recurring role on “Girlfriends” and the FX Network series “Thief” starring Andre Braugher and Linda Hamilton.
Yoba’s popular book Please Return My Phone Call! Preventing the Demise of Personal and Professional Relationships is a handbook for business and interpersonal relationships, which offers insight into improving interpersonal communication, integrity, accountability and leadership.
Born and raised in New York City, Yoba likes to say he’s not a product of his urban upbringing, but a progression. Prior to his career in entertainment, Yoba was a full-time educator working with the non-profit youth empowerment organization, City Kids Foundation, in both New York and later Los Angeles where he founded a chapter. He has also worked internationally with young people from Johannesburg Secondary School in South Africa, and the youth leadership conference in Belize and Central America and has been recognized by or worked with President Bill Clinton, UNICEF, The Congressional Black Caucus and The Ethiopian Children’s Fund.
RICHARD T. JONES (Mike) Richard T. Jones has earned a well-deserved reputation in Hollywood as one of the most versatile actors working in the business today.
His film credits include the upcoming film VANTAGE POINT and a starring role in G, as well as roles in COLLATERAL, opposite Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, TWISTED, PHONE BOOTH, LOCKDOWN, THE WOOD with Omar Epps and Taye Diggs, KISS THE GIRLS starring Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd, THE TRIGGER EFFECT, Penny Marshall's RENAISSANCE MAN and the Oscar nominated WHAT'S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT.
On television, Jones is perhaps best known for his role as Bruce Van Excel on the CBS hit drama JUDGING AMY. Among his other television credits include the upcoming new television drama series SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES based on the TERMINATOR films, GIRLFRIENDS, a recurring role on UPN's SEX, LOVE AND SECRETS, CSI: MIAMI, DIRT, LAS VEGAS, the tele-film RIDING THE BUS WITH MY SISTER, directed by Angelica Houston and starring Rosie O'Donnell and Andie MacDowell, Steven Bochco's BROOKLYN SOUTH, ALLY MCBEAL, and NYPD BLUE.
Born in Japan, Jones studied acting at Tuskegee University. He resides in Southern California with his wife and four children.
MICHAEL JAI WHITE (Marcus) Michael J. White's first major starring role and breakout performance came in the 1995 HBO film TYSON as "Iron" Mike. He later starred in the 1997 movie SPAWN, for which he was nominated for Best Male Newcomer for the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards. White also starred opposite Jean Claude Van Damme in UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: THE RETURN. In 2001, he starred opposite fellow martial artist Steven Segal in EXIT WOUNDS and in 2003, he starred in Busta Rhymes' and Mariah Carey's music video “I Know What You Want.” Among his other film credits include THE TOXIC AVENGER PART II and TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II: THE SECRET OF THE OOZE. He has just completed a role in the new BATMAN, and Oct. 15th he begins shooting BLOOD AND BONE, as the title character (Bone) and he is producing. Also, he segues after that into BLACK DYNAMITE (Nov. 26th), he is the star and title character and co-wrote the screenplay and also is producing.
In addition to his on-screen roles, White's voice-over work includes the hit shows: “Static Shock”, “Justice League”, and the upcoming “Spawn” series. He also has a recurring role in Tyler’s series “House of Payne.”
An accomplished martial artist, White holds seven legitimate black belts in Shotokan, Tae Kwon Do, Kobudo, Goju Ryu, Tang Soo Do, Wushu and Kyokushi. He has a specific focus in Kyokushin (although his style incorporates aspects of many different martial arts forms), and also showcases his martial arts skills in the direct-to-DVD film UNDISPUTED II: LAST MAN STANDING. White began martial arts training at the age of 7.
LAMMAN RUCKER (Troy) Lamman Rucker was born in Pittsburgh, PA and grew up in Washington, DC.
Though an educator, athlete & entrepreneur, Mr. Rucker may be recognized to most as Mona's handsome boyfriend 'Chase' on UPN's "Half & Half" as well as his loveable bad boy characters in daytime: 'Marshall Travers' on CBS's "As The World Turns" and 'the Dragon-Garret Willliams' on ABC's "All My Children". He has also been a memorable guest star on “Law & Order”, “All Of Us”, “House Of Payne” and the popular TV movie mini-series "The Temptations" as 'Jimmy Ruffin'.
On stage, Lamman received a 2002 Audelco nomination for his incredible portrayal of Jason in Euripidies' "Medea" and boasts of several other strong reviews and accomplishments in the theatre. Mr. Rucker is a founding ensemble member of the 'Black Gents of Hollywood' - an L.A.-based all black male theatre company whose powerful award-winning play "WEBEIME" is currently taking the country by storm (www.MySpace.com/BlackGents)! A graduate of the illustrious Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC, Lamman's accomplishments also include a NFAA Presidential Scholarship in the Arts nomination, Drama & Musical Theatre training at Carnegie-Mellon University, a full scholarship to the Berkshire Theatre Festival and having romantic leads in plays and musicals like "Hot Snow" (NBTF), "Nerfertari Rising" (Kuntu Repertory), "Pain In My Heart" (New Federal Theatre), "Perfect Mate", and "Sweet Charity", to name a few.
Mr. Rucker is an activist and spokesperson for several non-profit organizations and community action initiatives including A.H.E.A.D., Inc. (www.aheadinc.org), Inner City Industry (www.innercityindustry.org), BET's Rap-It-Up campaign (www.RapItUpPresents.com), the Black AIDS Institute (www.BlackAIDS.org) and other grass-roots organizations across the country leading the way in uplifting families and mobilizing communities to encourage prevention, education and testing initiatives for HIV/AIDS and other issues.
Lamman can be seen starting this October 12th in "Why Did I Get Married?" with an all-star cast that includes Jill Scott, Janet Jackson, and Tyler Perry.
Mr. Rucker is currently starring in award-winning romantic comedy "I'm Through With White Girls - The Inevitable Undoing of Jay Brooks" (www.turnsoul.com) which is touring the international festival circuit and in negotiations for studio distribution. In 2008, Lamman will also star in Tyler Perry's MEET THE BROWNS (starring Angela Bassett) along with gritty basketball-themed Michael Roiff drama, BALL DON’T LIE, with Mykelti Williamson, Steve Harris, Robert Wisdom, Harold Perrineau and Chris "Ludacris" Bridges.
SHARON LEAL (Dianne) Sharon Leal was born in Tucson, Arizona and raised in Northern California. At an early age, she began singing and eventually discovered her passion for acting while attending Roosevelt High School for the Performing Arts.
Leal’s professional career began in regional productions like Ain’t Misbehavin’ Into The Woods and Little Shop of Horrors name a few. Soon thereafter, she moved to New York and landed major roles in the Broadway hits, Miss Saigon and Rent. While in New York, Leal staged cabarets at B Smith’s, The Violet and Steve McGraw’s. She continued to hone her skills as she starred in the original musical, Bright Lights Big City at the New York Theater Workshop, also being featured on the production’s soundtrack. Soon thereafter, Leal work shopped an original production at The Manhattan Theater Club entitled Stormy Weather, in which she starred as the legendary Lena Horne.
Leal’s film credits include best supporting actress at The New York Independent Film Festival for the short film WHAT ARE THE ODDS and a role in the Golden Globe Award winning film DREAMGIRLS opposite Beyoncé Knowles and Jamie Foxx. Leal also stars in the upcoming Screen Gems film THIS CHRISTMAS with an ensemble cast including Regina King, Mekhi Phifer, and Nia Long.
Leals’ television credits include a series regular role on David E. Kelley’s Emmy-Award winning hit “Boston Public,” as well as guest-starring roles on “LAX”, “Las Vegas” , and “CSI: Miami.”
TASHA SMITH (Angela) As a dedicated and consummate performer, Tasha Smith brings style and intense character portrayals to the screen. Her outstanding performances have garnered widespread reactions from audiences and critics alike. Tyler Perry was so impressed with her stellar work, that he cast her to star in two of his films, including the latest, “WHY DID I GET MARRIED?” (Lionsgate), along-side Janet Jackson. Her accolades are still resonating from Perry’s “DADDY’S LITTLE GIRLS” (Lionsgate), opposite Gabrielle Union and Idris Elba, portraying Jennifer, the corrupt, vindictive ex-wife of Elba’s character, Monty. On and off the screen she seems to naturally command attention. Recent work also includes Russ Parr’s independent comedy, “THE BUSINESS,” with Kevin Hart, Kim Whitley and David Alan Grier.
Tasha has played a wide range of roles in such feature films as “ATL” (Warner Brothers) with T.I. and Mykelti Williamson, “THE GOOD MOTHER” (Sony/Screen Gems) with Angie Harmon and Joel Gretsch, and “THE WHOLE TEN YARDS” (Warner Brothers) with Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry. She has also starred in the independent films, “MILES FROM HOME” with Meagan Good and Ty Hodges, and “PLAYA’S BALL,” with Allen Payne and Elise Neal.
Tasha is also well-known for her critically-acclaimed portrayal of the drug-addicted Ronnie Boyce in HBO’s Emmy Award-winning mini-series, “THE CORNER,” directed by Charles S. Dutton. She has guest starred on such popular television shows as “NIP/TUCK,” “AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL,” “GIRLFRIENDS,” “WITHOUT A TRACE,” and “STRONG MEDICINE,” among others. Smith has also served as the Executive Producer and Host of her own talk show for the Oxygen Network, “TASHA VISION,” guest hosted the late night show, “LATER WITH GREG KINNEAR,” and recently appeared as a Field Correspondent on “THE TYRA BANKS SHOW.”
Smith takes the time to share her inspirational life story through motivational speaking, as well as mentors emerging actors through the Tasha Smith Actors Workshop (TSAW). A native of Camden, New Jersey, Tasha was raised by a single mother and has an identical twin sister and a younger sister. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, working out, rollerblading, traveling, and playing cards with friends. She resides in Los Angeles, California.
DENISE BOUTTE (Trina) While growing up in the small town of Maurice, Louisiana, Denise Boutté dreamed a more practical dream of becoming a doctor, while conquering this “mystical” place called Hollywood and becoming a film and TV star never really crossed her mind. Following graduation from North Vermilion High School and thereafter obtaining a degree in Mass Communications from Louisiana State University, Denise’s creative intuition led her to the world of advertising where she quickly became a respected account executive at various leading Dallas, Texas-based advertising agencies, tending to the clients of various brands including Pampers, Fossil, Mary Kay Cosmetics, among others. While overseeing commercial and photo shoots for her clients’ campaigns, Denise was introduced to life “on-set” and became fascinated by the endless possibilities this new world offered.
Before long, following an introduction to a local talent agent, Denise found herself in front of the lens for a variety of print and commercial campaigns. A series of introductions landed her a talent manager in Hollywood, and Denise decided to take a leap of faith, packed her truck and headed West.
In less than two years, Denise has emerged as one of Hollywood’s busiest new faces, highlighted with guest and recurring roles on numerous popular TV shows, including “Everybody Hates Chris”, “Boston Legal”, “Girlfriends”, “Days of Our Lives”, “Cuts”and “Noah’s Arc.” On the big screen, Denise is featured in lead roles in the soon to be released SISTER’S KEEPER, NOLA, BEHIND THE SMILE, PARENTAL GUIDANCE SUGGESTED and WELCOME TO HOLLYWOOD, among others. Most recently, Denise has teamed up with entertainment pioneer, Tyler Perry, playing the series regular role of “Sasha Bowman” in “Meet The Browns,” his next highly-anticipated TV series.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS TYLER PERRY (Actor, Writer, Director, Producer) See “About the Cast” section.
REUBEN CANNON (Producer) Moving from Chicago to Los Angeles with very little knowledge of the film industry, Reuben Cannon began his career in Hollywood in the mailroom at Universal Studios, also known as the “executive training program.” After years of hard work, Reuben’s work ethic, social skills, and rich imagination were recognized by Universal Studios casting executives. With a keen eye for talent and a burning desire to master the art of casting, Cannon moved quickly up the ranks of the department. Reuben’s talent was soon also acknowledged by the entire industry, so much so that he was eventually hired by Warner Bros. television to head their casting department.
After years of discovering some of the biggest names in film and TV – including Bruce Willis, Oprah Winfrey, Spike Lee, and Whoopi Goldberg – Cannon decided it was time to move onto his real passion: producing. Some of Cannon’s early producing credits include the TV movie “THE WOMEN OF BREWSTER PLACE” with Oprah Winfrey and Cicely Tyson; and such features as DOWN IN THE DELTA, directed by Dr. Maya Angelou; Spike Lee’s GET ON THE BUS; LOVE DON’T COST A THING with Nick Cannon; and WOMAN THOU ART LOOSED, based on the book by Bishop T.D. Jakes.
In the summer of 2004 Reuben Cannon Productions formed a production partnership with Tyler Perry Company that would prove to be a match made in heaven. Together they produced two films DIARY OF MAD BLACK WOMAN and MADEA’S FAMILY REUNION which both opened at Number One at the box office and grossed over $100 million. They also released DADDY’S LITTLE GIRLS on February 14, 2006. They also produced their first television series “HOUSE OF PAYNE,” which tested around the nation with outstanding results. In 2006, Turner Broadcasting signed an unprecedented deal to distribute this television series for 100 episodes. When the show debuted in first-run syndication HOUSE OF PAYNE made television history as the highest rated first-run cable series of all-time. They have completed a ten-episode pilot for yet another television series based on Tyler Perry’s hit play, MEET THE BROWNS. Other projects currently in preproduction include a 1940’s drama entitled JAZZMAN.
Cannon has received an Honorary Doctorate of Human Letters from Morehouse College. His work was recognized at the 2002 NAACP Image Awards when Daimler/Chrysler honored him with the Behind the Lens Award for his contributions to both film and TV. Mr. Cannon is also a long-standing member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.
ROGER M. BOBB (Co-Producer) Roger M. Bobb's career in film began as an Assistant Director. Over the last decade, he has been the producer or assistant director on more than 40 feature films and television shows.
Bobb’s collaboration with Tyler Perry began as an assistant director on Tyler’s first film DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN. Bobb co-produced Perry’s hit comedy MADEA’S FAMILY REUNION and his last feature film DADDY’S LITTLE GIRLS. Bobb is currently Supervising Producer on the new groundbreaking Tyler Perry television series HOUSE OF PAYNE starring Allen Payne. The show made television history when it debuted this season as the highest rated first-run syndicated cable show of all-time. Bobb will also serve as Supervising Producer on Perry’s new television pilot “Meet The Browns” and is co-producer the upcoming MEET THE BROWNS feature film.
Bobb also produced the independent film PREACHING TO THE CHOIR starring Patti Labelle and Tichina Arnold, which was nominated for a 2006 NAACP Image Award for Best Independent Film.
He is the only two-time winner of the Best Film Award at the American Black Film Festival and became the youngest African-American First AD in the Director’s Guild of America. Bobb was recently named by The Network Journal Magazine as one of the top 40 executives under 40. Born in London and raised in Brooklyn, his film career began in 1995 when he was accepted into the Director’s Guild of America's prestigious Assistant Director Trainee program. Under this program, he was fortunate enough to work on projects from such notable directors as Woody Allen, Mike Nichols and James Mangold.
Upon completing the program, he worked within the New York independent film community as an assistant director and quickly rose to the role of producer. His many credits include THE BELIEVER, NYPD BLUE, NEW YORK UNDERCOVER, COPLAND, WITNESS TO THE MOB, and STATE PROPERTY 2. Bobb attended Brooklyn College and the School Of Visual Arts.
JOE GENIER (Co-Producer) Joe Genier collaborates for the third time with Tyler Perry having co-produced Perry’s films DIARY OF A MAD BLACK WOMAN and the upcoming MEET THE BROWNS.
A veteran filmmaker, Genier has produced and managed more than 50 feature films and television productions in a dozen countries. His credits include PERFECT HOLIDAY, WAR, PEACEFUL WARRIOR, THE COOKOUT, DOWN IN THE VALLEY, AMERICAN PIE: BAND CAMP, ROCKETS’ RED GLARE, and AU PAIR.
Most recently Genier co-founded Push Worldwide, the new distribution division of Capital Arts Entertainment, with his partners Mike Elliott and Rob Kerchner.
Genier began his production career with Eastman Kodak in New York, before moving to multi-national projects with Hartmann International, and then line producing locally and internationally for Fox Family and Showtime. He moved on to cover international sales for independent companies at the AFM and Cannes film markets.
Returning to filmmaking, Genier joined Maple Palm Productions as its head of production, before joining Capital Arts in 1998 in the same capacity. At Capital Arts, he continues to successfully oversee both in-house productions as well as outside productions for such companies as Warner Bros, Universal, Lionsgate, and Fox.
Genier is a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Paris.