Tag Archives: Acting

10Feb/20

For Love, For Faith, For Life

From creator Hank Steinberg (“Without a Trace”) and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, and inspired by the life of Isaac Wright Jr., “For Life” is a fictional serialized legal and family drama about an imprisoned man, Aaron Wallace, who becomes a lawyer fighting to reverse his own life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit. His quest for freedom is driven by his desperate desire to get back to the family he loves—his estranged wife and daughter—and reclaim the life that was stolen from him. (ABC/Giovanni Rufino) NICHOLAS PINNOCK

Powerful is the one word I can use to describe the series For Life. Taji Mag was able to attend a DC advanced screening of the pilot and it did not disappoint!  The compelling series is influenced by Issac Wright Jr. who was falsely convicted under New Jew Jersey’s kingpin law. The series displays the strength of the human spirit and having unrelenting faith, how the justice system fails, and how all hope looks lost. Family dynamics, the corruption, and transition from the prison environment to life outside the prison walls are luring.  The series is so good, I only saw the pilot of the show and I’ve already downloaded the ABC streaming app to watch future episodes.  

 “ It was important for me for the audience to see what it’s like first hand, what the experience was like being imprisoned. That part where they had an innocent man, he goes to jail, he has to strip himself of clothing, he is talked to a certain way, he is mistreated and made to feel less than. That was really important to show.” – Nicholas Pinnock

For What?

The show follows as the lead character, Aaron (Nicholas Pinnock), is wrongfully convicted and sent to prison for many years. While serving time behind bars, he utilizes this time to become a lawyer. I questioned how this is possible but the pilot does a good job of explaining how Aaron was able to achieve this. 

One of the interesting moments in the series is Aaron’s representation of other prisoners that were wrongfully sentenced. I was intruged by how Aaron becomes a cerebral assassin when going againist the opposition, the same lawyer that placed him in jail.  The acting and writing is so well done, the audience in attendence for the screening cheered during Aaron’s small victories over his cases and filled the room with gasps whenever he dealt with unfair bias. 

“I really connected to it. I have family members who have been formerly incarcerated and I have two really good girlfriends that have partners who were formerly incarcerated and I know what it was like for them to stay connected to the person that they love. Having to travel states, planes, trains, and automobiles to stay connected. I understood their dynamic and that’s what I leaned into to create the role.” – Joy Bryant

For Love

(ABC/Giovanni Rufino)
TYLA HARRIS, NICHOLAS PINNOCK

Aaron is driven by the love for his family. His wife and daughter are who keep him motivated and in pursuit of his freedom. I felt there were many family dynamics explored within the show. From the relationship Aaron shares with his wife during his visits, to the distance placed between Aaron and his daughter. The show does well at displaying the chain reaction that occurs when a family member is placed in prison for a long sentence. “Do I give up on them?” “How much hope do I really have in their innocence?” These are some of the questions that plague the minds of the members involved during the incarceration of a loved one. I definitely felt an emotional tug when Aaron interacted with his wife during a prison visit. Their situation could not break the love they had for one another, even when life looks as if one of them is actively moving on, showing a bond with someone you love is impossible to break. 

“What happened to me and what I had to do started from somewhere. 9 times out of 10 it usually starts with the family. It starts off with your parenting and what’s instilled in you as a child. I would like to take the time out to recognize my parents.” – Issac Wright Jr. 

(ABC/Giovanni Rufino)
NICHOLAS PINNOCK, ERIK JENSEN

For Life

Throughout the pilot, there is an interesting transition as Aaron goes into the court bathroom dressed in an orange jumpsuit and coming out changed into a suit to represent his client. Only to return to the jail system where his life is threatened and his integrity challenged. 

Aaron is definitely a character you want to cheer for during the pilot, many in the theater did, as he attempts to take on the corrupt players in the judicial system, which include those that sent him to prison in the first place.

I really felt the cold, concrete walls that inclosed the inmates as the camera followed Aaron through his daily rituals.  

“A prison is broken down into three parts; administration (wardens, assistant warden), custody (the guards), and the inmate population. While the real stuff happens on the grounds with the inmate population, custody doesn’t want the administration to know because they want to continue to keep control of the prison. When this happens it is an environment of me against you with the inmates and custody. As an inmate, if it even looks like you are getting friendly with a guard somebody will be coming in your cell at 3 in the morning with a shank. It’s a very dangerous environment.” – Issac Wright Jr. 

If you love Power, you will definitely love For Life. With similar plot twists, scene breakdowns, and spectacular acting, the series will be undoubtedly one of the best series this year. 

Drama series “For Life” premieres TUESDAY, FEB. 11 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EST), on ABC.

Starring: Nicholas Pinnock, Joy Bryant

Executive Producer: 50 Cent

FOR LIFE – ABC’s “For Life” stars Timothy Busfield as Henry Roswell, Brandon J. Dirden as Darius, Joy Bryant as Marie Wallace, Tyla Harris as Jasmine Wallace, Nicholas Pinnock as Aaron Wallace, Indira Varma as Safiya Masry, Mary Stuart Masterson as Anya Harrison, Glenn Fleshler as Frank Foster, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson as Cassius, Dorian Missick as Jamal Bishop, and Boris McGiver as Glen Maskins. (ABC/Matthias Clamer)

08Jul/18

Actress Toree Alexandre Talks Playing Young Mariah on Luke Cage

Toree AlexandreWhen it comes to bright new talent in entertainment within the Black community, many of these creatives can be found at or have attended the American Black Film Festival in Miami. I found myself attending the film festival and I wanted to hear from Mr. Black Panther himself director Ryan Coogler speak about his journey to the being one of the hottest directors. While there I experienced the positive vibes from being around all of those in attendance. It was euphoric and energizing, Black excellence at its finest. There were many activities going on for attendees to partake in, one of the most entertaining was the HBO comedy competition hosted by Yvonne Orji aka Molly from Insecure. Before Yvonne’s comedic talents slew the audience, I happened to meet two actresses; one very charismatic Amber Jones and a very shy, jovial Toree Alexandre. We spoke about projects and exchanged business cards, little did I know one of these actresses played the younger version of the villainous Black Mariah on season 2 of the hit Netflix series Luke Cage

Dapper Dr. Feel: How did you get into acting?

Toree Alexandre: My mother was a ballerina in England, and she put me in dance classes growing up, so I was performing in dance recitals from a young age. The turning factor, however, was when I played Johnny Appleseed for a history assignment in my second-grade class. When I put that metal pot on my head and got up in front of my class to perform, I knew I wanted to play Mr. Appleseed in a feature film one day.

DDF: What was your reaction to getting the Black Mariah role?

TA: I was at my desk at work and I screamed (internally), and cried a little! People at work already see me talking to myself daily, whether it is to memorize lines, or just a friendly convo with me, myself, and I – so they didn’t think anything of my strange behavior.

DDF: You mentioned you love classical theater, what made you get into it?

TA: The juiciest part of getting to know my characters is text analysis, and many classical pieces give you tons of text to sift through. From the metaphors to the parallels to the allusions to the rhymes to the symbolism to the imagery, it all gives you an inkling of how the playwright created the truths of the characters you are portraying, and how you as the actor can then insert yourself into the mix and do justice to those fully-realized characters. The depth, backstories and the intelligence of the Shakespearean characters are absolutely enthralling. I write poetry and am working on a few scripts, so I definitely take notes from great writers!

DDF: What was your process of preparing for the role?

TA: I watched the first season of Luke Cage, studied Mariah and her habits, imagined all of the things Mariah would do if she were on vacation in Jamaica, looked deeper into her relationships with Mama Mabel and her Uncle Pete, and how that played into her interactions with people and her hopes and dreams for the future of Harlem… also, dissecting what snapped inside her head for her to pitilessly pulverize her cousin to a pulp was a trip and a half… Ms. Woodard was captivating in that scene; I loved it!

DDF: What is the difference between theater and film?

TA: It’s just a different medium, so the scale is changed and you make adjustments accordingly. There is no real difference; it’s all acting! It really depends on the style of the show itself, that is part of what informs an actor’s choices.

Toree Alexandre

Actress Alfre Woodard as Mariah Dillard on TV show Luke Cage

DDF: Did you get to meet Alfre Woodard (Adult Black Mariah) or any of the main cast?

TA: Unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet Ms. Woodard (yet), but I was so grateful to have met LaTanya Richardson Jackson, Curtiss Cook, Jayden Brown (and his granddad), Chaundre Bloomfield, Mehki Hewling, Shannon Harris, and Jeff Auer. A lovely group of people!

DDF: How does it feel to be apart of a series that celebrates Black women?

TA: Black women are an integral part of how and why we are all here today. I celebrate Black women daily, so Luke Cage fits right into the puzzle! It feels like I am honoring the influential women in my life, so if I can honor them and pursue my passion simultaneously, what could be better than that?

DDF: What are your goals short term and long term?

TA: I am going to be a full-time actress and writer. I will be on stage and on the silver screen! I will travel the world. I will go back to school to study medicine, or mathematics, or both! My ultimate goal is to be of assistance to those in need.

DDF: What is your advice to young women in entertainment?

TA: Wah fi yhu, cyaan unfi yhu, as my grandmother would say. In other words, what’s for you is for you. Be your best self, work hard, be happy wherever you are and in whatever you are doing, and God and the Universe will take care of the rest.

Make sure to follow Toree Alexandre as she makes her way towards stardom in Hollywood and theater.