New and expanded TV and film postings this month. Please be patient as we prepare the individual character casting breakdowns. Check back frequently, as there will be more than a dozen additional film and television projects uploaded over the next few weeks.
Motion Picture Projects - includes Black, White & Mixed-Race Roles
Casting: ANY WOMAN
Celia: Exceptional A-list African American actress for lead role in film. Must have depth and character range, and be more than capable of portraying a role that will age her by at least a decade. Black slave girl who we see from the age of 14-24. She is thin and lithe, with gentle delicate features; must be able to look like a girl from a small tribe in Africa, unkempt, and disheveled… but will mature and transform into a natural beauty with a little care. Her hair might look like an afro, but when it is cut short it looks boyish and youthful. Her skin is a light brown and should have a sheen like satin that shines and attracts.
Celia ages by 10 years and in the process becomes an educated young woman. Her physical appearance changes; her hair looks more well groomed. She might even appear to have been using some cosmetics of the 1840’s: Lavander oil, rose oil and sandalwood. There might also be some ointments and salves, even some powder… which would lighten her skin even more…
Celia starts off at 14 as a scared young girl. As the story unfolds, she becomes stronger and more assertive until the point when she determines that she will not allow her master to sell their child into slavery… and murders him.
Robert Newsome: From early 30s to mid 40s. Attractive, self-assured male, but vulnerable. White male slave owner who rapes a 14-year old slave girl purchased at a slave auction. He is in his early 30s when the story starts. He has been married to a woman who he loved, but who was very sexually cold to him (as was in keeping with the time they lived). He was frustrated by her lack of interest in sex. When he “takes” Celia on their ride home after he purchased her, he doesn’t regard their liaison as rape… he was sleeping next to her in a tent and when she accidentally exposed herself to him, he reacted half asleep.
Robert Newsome is a complex character who is a kind of "everyman" of his period, doing what any man would have done in his position as a slave owner.
He has two daughters whom he adores. He is good to his slaves and he is trying to get through life. He is not particularly religious, though he attends church as often as he can stomach. He sees through the hypocrisy of the people in power regarding their ownership of slaves… but goes along with everything because he’s just an average man.
This A-List actor must be able to evoke sympathy as being someone who is simply obeying the customs of his time. He is basically a good man but unable to deal with the maturing of a young girl who he sees only as his property… not as a mature woman.
Libby Harrington: (Seasoned, strong White character actress preferred.) Eight years older than Robert Newsome… late 30s when story starts, late 40s when story ends. Cordelia’s sister. She is a plain woman who might have been described in her day as ‘handsome”. She is a bit matronly. She is well educated, well spoken, very organized, dedicated to Robert’s daughters and to encouraging Celia’s endeavors to better herself. She is dark haired with a touch of gray and always dresses very conservatively. One suspects she may have had one love affair in her youth that didn’t end well. She is a spinster… but not an angry spinster. She may have a bit of a crush on Robert Newsome, but never displays it.
Cordelia Harrington: Mid-20s during her early years of marriage. She is White, attractive, yet very reserved. She dresses well, but conservatively. She has light brown hair, not blond, not overly attention getting. She is “appropriate” in every way. Wife of Robert Newsome, mother of his two children, who dies early in the story.
Charles Newsome: MUST be a seasoned character actor -- a quality role for someone who is well-known who we have not seen in a while. [Late 50s] Father of Robert Newsome and owner of Newsome Manor, a farm that uses slaves. He is White, a decent man who is also caught up in the hypocrisy of his era. He is not a libertine but believes that it is logical and well advised for him to plan for a way to ease his son’s burgeoning young manhood by arranging for his middle-aged nanny, Jenny, to teach him the rudiments of sex so that he will not impregnate one of the slave girls (or one of the local debutantes) which would create an awkward situation for the family.
Penelope Newsome: MUST be a seasoned White character actress -- a quality female role for someone who is well-known in the industry who we have not seen in a while. [Middle 50s] Robert’s mother. A typical lady of her day, a little plump, very conservative and a bit “entitled” as many of the landowners of her time. She would never bring up the idea that her husband has arranged for her son to be sexually educated by his Black nanny.
Beulia: Black CHARACTER ACTRESS. [mid 40s] Female slave who manages the household and is the "woman" for Buck, who is the Black foreman of the plantation.
Buck: Black CHARACTER ACTOR. [mid 40s] Beulia’s ‘husband”, though they are not legally married. He manages the plantation and acts as the foreman. He is affable, agreeable, competent and good natured. He has no anger at being a slave. He has accepted it and does the best he can. Robert Newsome and he have a good professional relationship.
Jenny: A very important role for an A-List, full-bodied African American actress. (She's like the 4th character in importance.) [Late 50s/early 60s.] Robert’s nanny when he was growing up and the first woman he had sex with. She is a middle-aged Black slave who is has a certain obvious sensuality without being slutty. She is older-looking in appearance, with an inner sexuality, attractive features, but not toned or considered “pretty”. She is quite large breasted, big hipped and comfortable in her skin. She is very loving in a matronly way and cares deeply for Robert Newsome who she has raised since his birth. When she has sex with him, it becomes lustful simply because it is sex. Her intention is to provide him with a sexual outlet so as to help him. She does enjoy the sex with him, but in the back of her mind, she is doing this not for her own gratification but for his… and to protect him from creating problems for himself and the family if he were to approach other girls his own age.
Lawyer Fredrick Harwood: The White attorney who brings news to Libby about the estate of Robert Newsome at the end of the Civil War. He is a young man who should appear like a young man starting out to be a lawyer.
Warren “Renny” Newsome: An A-List bi-racial actor (or an exciting new male discovery). The son of Celia and Robert Newsome. He is “mocha” skinned and extremely attractive. [In 1865 he is just 20 years old.] Attractive, smart, charismatic and eager to adventure into the world. Has been taught to read and write.
Thaddius Attaway: Top CHARACTER ACTOR (a Bill Murray talent would be a stroke of genius.) Serious major character role, actor MUST be able to portray a ludicrous human being. The White slave auctioneer who sells Celia to Robert: He is mid/late 50’s, ill-kempt, loudly dressed for his era, baggy clothes, brightly-colored cravat and gives the customer a great chance to be creative in showing us what a loud-mouthed, slave seller might look like. He is immoral, immodest, ill mannered, on the edge of being illegal. His personality is unattractive in every conceivable way. He might be a bit of a drinker also.
Judge William Hall: Prefer a well-known face from either TV or film who we have not seen in a while. Judge Hall is a White Circuit Court Judge who is in charge of Celia’s murder trial. This is a mature man of about 60, possibly a tad older. He is a traveling judge who is well versed in the temperament of the community. He follows the limits and letter of the law insuring that he gets the outcome he expects, so that he can keep the community happy.
Gaylan Owens: White, red-cheeked. (Prefer a seasoned comic actor with a well-known face.) Original owner and caretaker of young Celia when she arrived with her mother on a ship. 50s. A corpulent, jovial businessman who just happens to be in the business of selling slaves which he has no special concern with. He recognizes Celia’s exceptional beauty when he first sees her and even goes to the trouble of creating a kind of chastity belt for her so she will be a virgin when she gets sold. Although he is tempted to sample her charms, he restrains himself. His wife warns him not to think she won’t know if he does.
Reverend Langford Coffin: [early/mid/late 70s] The White Reverend of the local Presbyterian church who owns slaves himself and manages to find all sorts of excuses for owning slaves while being a minister of Christ. He is a hypocrite and very full of his own self importance. He has a buxom wife who Robert Newsome often stares at. She is not named in the story. She is mid 50’s, quite top heavy, and flirtatious.
Whit: A Black slave boy [19 or so] owned by the Newsome family who becomes friendly with the young Robert. He is outgoing (but not over the top), and respectful.
Elias: [mid 20s] White “Boss” working for Thaddius Attaway Tough, uneducated, guard.
Abner: [mid 20s] White “Boss” working for Thaddius Attaway. He is a bit dumber than Elias.
Otis Fincher: [Mid 20s] White waiter at Fincher’s Saloon, son of the owner. Friendly and trying to get Robert to spend money. He is not attractive, a bit disheveled, gawky, like a kid trainee trying to do well.
Television Projects - Black, White & Mixed-Race Roles
Casting the following primary roles:
Booker T. Washington: A-list singer/actor with powerful baritone voice mid 40s. He is a dark-skinned Negro with strong build and commanding voice. He is a natural-born leader and spokesman for his generation. He is friendly, brilliant, amusing and sensitive to the task at hand: educating a young Black high school student who thinks that studying Black history is a waste of time. He sings the following songs: BLACK, NOT MUCH TO WORK WITH, DOIN’ WHAT I’M DOIN’, UP FROM SLAVERY, RAILROAD TO HEAVEN, CAST DOWN YOUR BUCKET.
James Barrett: [A-List singer/actor teenager] He will sing a rap song, MO FO, and will join the chorus occasionally so he must have a good strong solid voice. James Barrett is a 16-year old African American high school student living in Chicago. He is studying for a history test in his bedroom when he hears a choir outside of his window down on the street. They turn out to be the spirits of his ancestors who have come to pay him a visit. They are lead by Booker T. Washington, one of the great men of American history who, in an effort to acquaint James with the real “hands on” experience of slavery, will guide James through a very personal journey of what it felt like when Booker T wrote his famous autobiography, UP FROM SLAVERY.
Young James will be guided by the choir of his ancestors. He will wear the uncomfortable Flax Shirt to cover his body - no pants, no shoes, and the smell of slavery on his skin. He will be treated like an animal, re-named Barrett’s Jim, like an object as was customary in those times. He will be fed stale leftovers and forced to sleep on a hard mud floor in a small shack… and realize that he has lost the power to read - because as a slave, he was never taught.
He learns how to teach himself to read the same way Booker T. Washington did; James is given the opportunity to learn how the slaves passed on information about how to find the “underground railroad” through the words of Negro spirituals in the heavily choreographed song, RAILROAD TO HEAVEN.
He begins to understand how to overcome impossible odds to get an education and the heartbreak of falling in love with a slave girl only to lose her in an instant because she was sold without any warning to a slave owner far away.
And when reality reenters his world and he watches his older brother, Ray, a marine home on leave get shot outside his window, he learns how he must take all of this newly discovered information and apply it to his young life. He realizes that his brother, now a member of the spirit world (along with the spirits of his ancestors) will be guiding him in the future so that their investment in him will pay off.
The story ends with his brother joining the choir of angels who lead him into a future of positive accomplishment fostered by what he has learned from his own family’s history. And at the very end he recognizes the reincarnation of the beautiful slave girl he fell in love with when he was experiencing life as a slave… as he enters the history class for the test he was trying to prepare for the night before. He sees her enter the same classroom at the same moment… as if it had all been pre-arranged by Providence.
Ray Barrett: [A-List Black singer/Actor 20s] James Barrett’s 23-year-old brother, a marine corporal. He must sing and dance. He sings MO FO with his brother and will also join the choir, so he must have a strong voice. He and his brother and his mother will reprise LET MY BABY BE FREE.
Mrs. Leonore Barret: [A-List Black singer/actress with a well-known face from movies, TV or records. A great opportunity for a middle-aged R & B singer from the music business.] James’ mother; mid 40’s. matronly, kind, yet a no-nonsense woman who won’t let James get away with too much. She counts on his older brother, Ray, to set an example for her younger son. She will join the reprise of LET MY BABY BE FREE, sung by her two sons when Ray dies. Must be a fantastic singer and actress. This is an opportunity for someone who has not been in an acting role before but who is known as a sensational singer.
Jane [A-List Black singer/actress with great voice to sing LET MY BABY BE FREE [Booker T’s mother: 19 year old young, frail woman who has Booker T when she’s 19 years old. Sings big song “LET MY BABY BE FREE”, must be an amazing singer.
Hildy Brown: [Black Character Actress/singer with well known face.] 35-year-old slave, sharp and independent. Has been around and knows the score. She will be in all of the choir numbers with occasional solo lines in the songs.
Anna: Black Beautiful young slave girl about 16 years of age. Accomplished dancer. Exciting new discovery of exceptional talent: singer/dancer/actress with shockingly beautiful good looks and innocence… vulnerable. Lights up the stage with her presence and is really only a poor slave girl. Must look downtrodden in rags… and instantly looks like a princess by a simple costume change.
Buck, Quick Buck: Black young character actor singer/dancer. MUST be Broadway caliber who is a Black fancy dandy swindler in his 20’s who can scam and con everyone. He sings I WORK WITH MY WITS!
Otis: Black character singer/actor 30s - friendly and knowledgeable slave. Must have beautiful voice… baritone or tenor with large range. Sings: AIN’T NOBODY HERE AT HOME.
Becky: Black character singer/actress 30s. Slave cook, very knowledgeable about food. She may be heavy. Must be able to lift heavy-looking objects like large pieces of meat and large piles of washed clothing. Must be strong as an ox.
Gemma: Black character singer/actress 30s. Slave washer woman. Heavy like Becky and knowledgeable about washing clothing. Must be able to lift heavy-looking objects like large pieces of meat and heavy gatherings of washed clothing. Must also be strong as an ox.
Mrs. Ruffian: White character actress 40s. Well-known face from TV or movies. Mistress of the plantation. Firm, but kind. She is the one who allows Booker T to use her library and encourages his education. Must have strong voice.
Sarah: Black character actress may be an exciting newcomer. Receptionist at Hampton Institute, one of the first Black schools set up during the Reconstruction period after the Civil War. 20s. She is stern and tries to be intimidating though she is small and fragile. She is trying to screen potential students for Hampton to keep out the ones who she knows won’t survive. Booker T. has her pegged right off the bat because he’s already encountered a tough lady… Mrs. Ruffian.
Foreman/Miner/hotel manager: Character actor from the choir. White 30s, big and brawny. Mean - very mean.
Union Army Lieutenant: White character actor from the choir. 20s
Nathaniel: Character actor from the choir. Black furniture maker. Age range 30-40.
Choir members with names: They are a mix of colors. These are all relatives of James Barrett.
Margret Morgan, Black
Thomas Barrett, White
Robert Owens and Angela Post, Black
Herbert Barrett, Black
Cassandra Dougherty, White
Fanny Grantling, Black
Jacob Juniper, White
Marjorie Williams, Black
Hannibal Morrison, Black
Faith Rampling and John Quincy, White
UP FROM SLAVERY: A gospel number enunciating the hope of the slaves.
CAST DOWN YOUR BUCKET: A famous saying of Booker T. Washington who encouraged everyone to make their life situation work where they were. Cast down your bucket and pick up the miracles that abound.
MOFO; A rap song indicating the initial disrespect James Barrett feels in his life… which will change during the story.
LET MY BABY BE FREE: Booker T’s mother praying for her son.
RAILROAD TO HEAVEN: Negro spiritual that maps out the road to freedom.
BLACK: Booker T describes how he found self-respect.
MONEY: Jubilant expression about the discovery of the power of money to slaves who suddenly had acquired some after emancipation. It explains the importance of it to those who never had any before.
NOT MUCH TO WORK WITH: Booker T explains how he built Tuskegee University with virtually nothing except hard work and the knowledge that the Good Lord would help him along the way.
HAPPY DOIN’ WHAT I’M DOIN: Happy work song.
I WORK WITH MY WITS: A charlatan’s song explaining how a black dandy had learned to fleece everyone of their money.
SLOW DANCIN’: Love song James sings to beautiful young slave girl right before she gets sold. It expresses his desire to only have a slow dance with her in the moonlight… which he realizes he’ll never have.
Documentary projects will be posted throughout the month as in-depth character casting breakdowns are created. Do check back frequently.
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