august wilson

  • A Look Back at The 48th NAACP Image Awards


    The 48th NAACP Image Awards — which are presented by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to honor people of color in entertainment — were held this past Saturday night, Feb. 11, 2017, at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California.

    Denzel Washington won an award for best movie actor for his role in “Fences,” the adaptation of August Wilson’s play, which Washington also directed.

    “It is a privilege, an honor, a responsibility, a duty and a joy to bring his brilliance to the screen,” Washington said of the late Wilson, whom he called among America’s greatest playwrights. Last month, the New York Film Academy welcomed one of Washington’s co-stars, Russell Hornsby, who also praised the late playwright for being so influential on his career. “Wilson forced actors to bring their authentic self,” Hornsby said to a room full of NYFA students. “You bring your pain [to the role].”

    One of the big winners of the evening was “black-ish,” the TV sitcom came close to sweeping its categories, taking the award for best TV comedy and stars Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross getting top acting trophies. In non-televised awards given Friday, the show earned honors for co-stars Laurence Fishburne and Marsai Martin and a writing trophy for creator Kenya Barris. “The People Vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” also cleaned up the television comedy and drama categories with three wins, though newcomer Queen Sugar was recognized as the best drama series. Interesting note: NYFA Instructor Ken Lerner played attorney Howard Weitzman in “The People Vs O.J. Simpson” —the lawyer who is ultimately replaced by attorney Robert Kardashian, played by David Schwimmer.

    Hidden Figures

    American musical recording artist, actress, and model Janelle Monáe, left, American actress and singer Taraji P. Henson, American actor, film director, and producer Kevin Costner, and American actress Octavia Spencer arrive on the red carpet for the global celebration of the film “Hidden Figures” at the SVA Theatre, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016 in New York. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

    However, the directing award went to Donald Glover for his hit comedy series “Atlanta,” which also won a Golden Globe earlier this year. “Hidden Figures” and Taraji P. Henson were also winners, as the fact-based drama about the contributions of black female mathematicians to the U.S. space program won the award for best movie, while star Henson was honored as best actress.

    Beyoncé dominated the music categories with five wins, including Outstanding Female Artist and Outstanding Album for Lemonade.

    Back in the film world, “Moonlight” ran away with four awards including Outstanding Independent Motion Picture and two writing and directing wins for Barry Jenkins.

    “Queen Sugar,” created by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, was named best drama series, and “This Is Us” star Sterling K. Brown claimed the award for best TV drama series actor.

    Lonnie G. Bunche III received the NAACP President’s Award for his work as founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

    Last but not least, the popular wrestler turned actor, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, was named entertainer of the year in online voting. Last year, one of our Acting for Film graduates appeared in a video with Johnson, promoting his new Youtube channel.


    February 13, 2017 • Entertainment News • Views: 3338

  • “Fences” Actor Russell Hornsby Holds Workshop with Acting Students at NYFA


    Denzel Washington’s “Fences,” in which he stars and directs, was recently nominated for four Academy Awards. Based on the August Wilson play, “Fences,” tells the story of Troy Maxson, a mid-century Pittsburgh sanitation worker who once dreamed of a baseball career, but was too old when the major leagues began admitting black players. Actor Russell Hornsby, who plays the role of Lyons in both the play and the film, spoke to Acting for Film students at the New York Film Academy.

    russell hornsby

    As Hornsby put it, he essentially began his career while doing his “tour of duty in New York,” which, like most up and coming actors, began as a struggle and eventually led to being cast in leading roles in the Off Broadway productions of “To Kill a Mockingbird” (as Atticus Finch), “Joe Louis Blues,” and “Six Degrees of Separation” (as Paul).

    “I value the notion of working,” Hornsby said of his early career. “I was broke because I made a conscious decision to work.” 

    In the late 1990s, he decided to move to Los Angeles to break into film and television. He has appeared in several different television productions including appearing in recurring roles in “Haunted” as Detective Marcus Bradshaw and “Gideon’s Crossing” as Chief Resident Dr. Aaron Boise. His other television credits include “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Law & Order,” and “In Justice” among others. He also played running back Leon Taylor in ESPN’s drama series “Playmakers.” On the big screen, he has appeared in such films as “After the Sunset,” “Big Fat Liar,” “Get Rich or Die Tryin’,” “Keep the Faith,” “Baby,” “Meet the Parents,” and “Stuck” among others. In 2000, Hornsby appeared in the Off-Broadway production of “Jitney” for which he won a Drama Desk Award and an Obie Award.

    Hornsby credits the late playwright August Wilson as a major influencer and mentor in his career, beginning after he saw his 1992 play, “Two Trains Running.” From that point, Hornsby would perform in several Wilson plays, including the most recent, “Fences.”

    “Wilson forced actors to bring their authentic self,” he said. “You bring your pain [to the role].”

    Wilson continued his thought, advising our acting students “to be malleable and figure out what tools you need.”

    Throughout the discussion, Hornsby was able to captivate the students while providing invaluable advice.

    “Embrace the rejection,” he said. “This is a subjective business. You’re going to get discouraged. You’re going to cry. You’re going to complain to your friends. Then move on.” 

    “You can’t lie in life and then tell the truth on stage,” added moderator and NYFA Instructor Randall Dottin, who said he first heard that advice from Hornsby.

    russell hornsby

    Hornsby recalled the one and only direction Denzel Washington gave him on set of the film. Washington left him with the words, “Take care of your brother.” It was at that point that Hornsby realized he needed to take care of his scene partner and cast, and not to just focus on himself.”

    Following his talk, Hornsby worked one-on-one with acting students to work on their own individual monologues. His sincerity and commitment to the process was incredibly valuable and greatly appreciated.

    Hornsby is currently starring in the NBC fantasy drama, “Grimm,” and will be in the upcoming Netflix series “Seven Seconds.”


    February 2, 2017 • Acting, Guest Speakers • Views: 4916