Most notably Salli Richardson is well-known for playing “Angela”-the hot, sexy love-interest of Keenan Ivory Wayans, and alongside Jada-Pinkett Smith, in the called “Low-Down Dirty Shame” however, Salli first caught everyone’s attention on the big screen acting alongside Stephen Baldwin and Mario Van Peebles in the movie “Posse” along with several other industry greats.
A working actor since the moment she stepped on the scene and since then, has gone on to producing and now, is set to star in the role in her life-well… someone else’s.
For years, Hollywood’s been threatening us with just who would be playing Lena Horne in a biopic (from everybody like Alicia Keys to Halle Berry and a few others rumored to have been reading for the role).
Well, now we’ve got the final answer: actor/singer/producer Salli Richardson-Whitfield has gone on to take the role beyond promise: it’s brought to fruition, finally.
The triple-threat herself is playing Lena Horne in a bioplay called “The Lady Must Live.”
Born June 30, 1917 and gone to glory in May of 2010, Lena Horne voice, face, (and “way”) are most unforgettable.
Many of us younger generations would probably most remember Lena Horne from Sesame Street, and as Glynda The Good Witch in “The Wiz” starring Diana Ross and the late Michael Jackson.
Later into the years, our generation would most remember her face and voice from an episode of the widely popular Cosby Show where, she brought art to life by playing herself as a nightclub singer, singing for [Cliff] Huxtable’s birthday.
Nightclub singing is where Horne’s root lay.
At age sixteen she joined and performed at the Cotton Club before moving to Hollywood where she got small parts and numerous movies and larger roll in films but due to her left-leaning political views she eventually found herself getting blacklisted and unable to get work in Tinseltown and from there-found herself returning back to her roots as a nightclub performer and on television.
Although she announced that she would be retiring in March 1980, the very next year she starred on Broadway in her one-woman show called: “Lena Horne: The Lady and Her Music” (which ran more than 300 performances) and earned Lena Horne’s countless awards and accolades. She continued performing and recording periodically (and released her 40th CD called “Just Being Myself”) where, before disappearing altogether from the public eye around 2000, she performed the single from the CD on the Rosie O’Donnell Show in 1998.
What better way to honor her legacy than to finally bring her story to life in a bioplay “The Lady Must Live: Inside the Imaginary Mind of Lena Horne” by Rikki Beadle-Blair.”
Various songs for her catalogue will be performed [by Richardson-Whitfield who, I had NO idea could sing! She’s an awesomely good match and fit for Lena Horne and has got some chops! Who knew!]
The bioplay takes place at the point of Horne’s one woman show “The Lady and Her Music” where backstage Hornes struggles to rework her show to display her life story with more candor as she recants stories of her dead mother, husband, and son and dearest friend (gay black composer Billy Strayhorn)-all of whom died tragically early as Lena Horne “helps recreate and debate her highly subjective memories” [in the bioplay]. As well, the story tells of what it took, then, for Lena Horne to make it in this life as an African American entertainer and working mother. The bioplay goes back into Lena Horne’s Cotton Club days, MGM movie days, her secret interracial marriage, and too-her years during the times she was blacklisted.
“I was unique in that I was a kind of black that white people could accept. I was their daydream. I had the worst kind of acceptance because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed. It was because of the way I looked” – Lena Horne
Lena Horne was of mixed race and born at a time when, because of the way she looked; she could [do what’s folks called: “pass”]—pass for/by/be among whites for not being that “one kind of black” where she was “not too black,” yet and still, Lena Horne’s life and past was far from such that it “got a pass” in any way, shape, or form.
As well, you can catch Sallie Richardson-Whitfield on her reoccurring role on BET’s Being Mary Jane starring as Gabrielle Union/Mary Jane’s longtime friend.
Although we don’t know if her role will be indefinitely or not, but she is set to star in at least five episodes.
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