Considering how great the likelihood is of not making it in show business, any level of national recognition should be deeply appreciated.
That said, and focusing on Hollywood, there are so many actresses and actors who are familiar to just about everyone and have extensive credits. But they are not superstars although their talents and accomplishments merit status on that level.
In this story, the spotlight is on five of Hollywood’s best, though not always acknowledged as such.
DEBBI MORGAN is one of the most gifted actresses ever. Many had long been aware of her talent, but it wasn’t until “Eve’s Bayou” in 1997 that they fully realized how remarkable she is.
It was a weird movie set in New Orleans (the perfect location for such captivating weirdness) and Morgan gave her strange character, Mozelle Batiste Delacroix, everything she had.
Morgan’s other films include “Love & Basketball,” “The Jesse Owens Story,” “Coach Carter,” “Thornwell” and “The Hurricane.” But she is best known for the many years she portrayed Dr. Angela Baxter Hubbard on the daytime drama “All My Children.”
WHICH BRINGS to mind Darnell Williams, Morgan’s co-star on “All My Children.” He is permanently etched in the minds of thousands of TV viewers as “Jesse Hubbard.” For his efforts he has received two Daytime Emmy Awards.
Williams has come a long way since his days in the ’70s as a regular dancer on “Soul Train.”
He and Debbi Morgan came to be acknowledged as the first African American “super couple” on an American soap opera.
It is surprising the Darnell Williams has not done more film work.
WHEN IT comes to playing characters with intensity in high gear, it would be difficult to surpass Giancarlo Esposito. His full name, by the way, is Giancarlo Giuseppe Alessandro Esposito and he was born in Copenhagen, Denmark to an African American mother and Italian father.
Anyone who has seen movies such as “School Daze,” “Malcolm X,” “The Usual Suspects,” “Do the Right Thing,” “The Cotton Club” and “Mo’ Better Blues” will never forget Esposito’s performances.
If not on the big screen, then on TV on a lengthy list of shows, among them “NYPD Blue,” “Miami Vice,” “New York Undercover,” “CSI: Miami,” “Touched by an Angel,” “Law & Order,” “Living Single” and “Breaking Bad.”
And it is not necessary for Esposito to have a lead role; he can be fully effective with a relatively short period of time on screen, as was the case with “Waiting to Exhale.” His verbal exchange, and the “loud silence,” with the great Loretta Devine is as intriguing as it is purposely uncomfortable.
Giancarlo Esposito has a much-deserved star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He also deserves an Oscar and an Emmy.
TASHA SMITH was so effective in “Why Did I Get Married?” and “Why Did I Get Married Too?” that it was almost scary — and you hoped that she was nothing like that mean-spirited, male-ego-destroying character.
Among her other films were “Jumping the Broom,” “ATL” and “Pastor Brown.”
Smith currently has a recurring role on “Empire” as Carol Hardaway, sister of Cookie Lyon (Taraji P. Henson). Many viewers want to see her more often on the popular show.
She has also been featured on “Meet the Browns,” “Girlfriends,” “Nip/Tuck,” “The Parkers” and “The Steve Harvey Show,” among others.
Tasha Smith’s sister, Sidra Smith, is also an actress.
ONE OF THE main reasons for the popularity of “Soul Food,” the series that ran from 2000 to 2004 on Showtime, was Rockmond Dunbar. There were 74 episodes, making it the longest-running drama with a predominantly black cast in the history of prime-time television in the United States.
Dunbar was Kenny Chadway, husband of Maxine Chadway, portrayed by Vanessa Williams, not to be confused with the Vanessa Williams who was the first black Miss America and who was, interestingly, one of the stars of the “Soul Food” movie (1997).
Dunbar also has sex appeal. In fact, TV Guide name him one of “Television’s 50 Sexiest Stars of All Time.”
In addition to a later regular role on “Prison Break,” Dunbar was seen on “The Mentalist,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “The Wayans Bros.,” “Girlfriends,” “CSI: Miami,” “The Game” and others.