Theatre and music intertwine to tell the story of three women who grew up on a plantation outside of New Orleans during the early 1900's and migrated to Harlem at the dawn of the Harlem Renaissance discovering a new caramel-colored world filled with art, music and memories of a world left behind. Their journey is a fictional representation of the real journeys of thousands during the great African American migration of the early 20th century.
Dreaming of Harlem Under a High Southern Sky is written by Gabrielle Denise Pina, USC Master of Professional Writing Program, directed by Adleane Hunter, with a soundtrack by USC Thornton Professor Ron McCurdy. The production stars Vanessa Bell Calloway, Dawnn Lewis, Lela Rochon Fuqua, Mara Hall and Richard Gant.
VANESSA BELL CALLOWAY
Vanessa Bell Calloway is a stage, screen and television actress who has earned eight NAACP Image Award nominations.
Best known for her roles in the box office smashes “Coming to America”, “What’s Love Got to Do With It”, “Biker Boyz”, “Love Don’t Cost A Thing”, “Daylight,” “The Inkwell”, “Crimson Tide”, “The Brothers”, “Cheaper By The Dozen”, “The Temptations” and she voiced the lead female role in the animated feature “Bebe’s Kids”.
Calloway will star in TV ONE’s new movie for television, “To Hell and Back” along with Ernie Hudson this April. She also is currently recurring on John Well’s top-rated hour drama “Shameless” on Showtime. She recurred on TNT’s “Rizzoi & Isles,” and as Gail Strummer the arch nemesis of Jada Pinkett Smith’s on “Hawthorne RN”. Judge Campbell on NBC’s “Harry’s Law” and “Go On” which starred Mathew Perry.
Independent features include “The Under Shepherd” with Isaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy), The “Last Fall” with Lance Gross (Our Family Wedding) and “The Obama Effect” with Charles Dutton (Roc). Independent features soon to be released include “The Preachers Son”, “The Mistress”, “The Bounce Back”, “Medicine Men” and “Scout”.
A character actress in demand, Calloway has guest starred on CBS’s NCIS and Reckless. ABC’s Castle and Detroit 187, Showtime’s Dexter, GMC’s Between Sisters, BET’s Let’s Stay Together, Cold Case, The Closer, CSI, CSI Miami and The District just to name a few. This summer she will guest star on the BET smash hit “Real Husbands of Hollywood”.
Vanessa’s stage credits are many. She recently received an NAACP Theatre Award for Best Actress for her riveting portrayal of Zora Neale Hurston in “Letters From Zora” which sold out performances at The Pasadena Playhouse on two separate engagements. She also received raved reviews when she performed “Letters From Zora” at The Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ. She was a part of the original Broadway cast of the hit musical Dreamgirls and she starred in Seven Guitars at The August Wilson 20th Century Theater Festival held at The Kennedy Center and in the Los Angeles production of The Piano Lesson. Vanessa brought the house down in “The Divorce” written by Donald B. Welch, and starred in the LA stage production of “Crowns” at The Ebony Repertory Theatre and The Pasadena Playhouse. She has performed in several other Los Angeles theater productions as well. She is excited to be reunited with Lettters From Zora playwright, Gabrielle Denise Pina for this special production of “Dreaming Of Harlem Under A High Southern Sky”.
Vanessa has a hit web series “In The Company Of Friends” and a Blog Talk Radio Show “That’s So Very Vanessa”. They are both available ON DEMAND ANYTIME at WWW.INTHECOMPANYOF FRIENDS.TV For two seasons Calloway was a co-host of the BET talk show “Oh Drama” as well.
Vanessa is a professional dancer and has performed with various professional dance companies in New York and Los Angeles. She also danced and starred in the television movies “Polly,” “Polly Coming Home” and “Stompin At The Savoy”, all directed by Debbie Allen.
She has two beautiful grown daughters, Ashley and Alexandra and has been married to her loving husband Dr. Anthony Calloway for 26 years.
Dawnn Lewis is a multitalented and multifaceted individual: an NAACP & Trumpet Award winner, a Grammy Award-winning singer, multiple BMI & ASCAP Award-winning songwriter, film actor and a Series TV creator/producer (BLACK JAQ) for ABC. She’s now recurring on the hit TV shows MAJOR CRIMES & BETTER CALL SAUL, & as the narrative voice for BET’s bio-series BEING. Dawnn recently wrapped production on the feature film THE REVIVAL, written & produced by acclaimed actor Harry Lennix & guest starred in SURVIVOR’S REMORSE, a new series produced by NBA star, LeBron James & Tom Werner. She stars in the recently released films: THE DIVORCE, MEGACHURCH MURDER, A LESSON IN ROMANCE & TWO IN. Dawnn can be “heard” giving voice to several characters: “LaBarbara” in FUTURAMA, “Mrs. Hanshaw” in SOPHIA THE FIRST, “Granny McStuffins” in DOC MCSTUFFINS, as well as a variety of characters in the series TURBO & Disney/Pixar’s mega hit films MONSTERS UNIVERSITY! and INSIDE OUT! She stars in the groundbreaking John Avnet/Rodrigo Garcia short film series WIGS!, in JENNIFER, written and directed by Mykelti Williamson, and also composed and performed some of the films underscore music. Other film & TV credits include: LET IT SHINE, THE POOF POINT (also contributed to score), I’M GONNA GIT U SUCKA, DREAMGIRLS, DINO TIME, STRANGE FRAME, CASTLE, DAYS OF OUR LIVES, ONE TREE HILL, SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER, ANY DAY NOW, THE CLEVELAND SHOW, THE LIFE & TIMES OF TIM, HANDY MANNY, KING OF THE HILL, THE BOONDOCKS, The X-MEN, SPIDERMAN, RICK & MORTY. Proudly on the hit TV shows A DIFFERENT WORLD (composer of shows theme song) & HANGIN’ WITH MR. COOPER (sang theme), Dawnn also starred in “NYC Encore’s” Broadway presentation of THE WIZ ; created the role of, and won BEST ACTRESS: FRED AWARD (Los Angeles) and nominated for the 2007 BEST ACTRESS: SUZI AWARD (Atlanta), for her “knock your socks off!” performance in the World Premiere of the Broadway hit “SISTER ACT: THE MUSICAL” as Deloris Van Cartier. Her record label, Morning Jewel Music, released her successful solo CD WORTH WAITING FOR, & partnered with & performed on “Donny McCullough & Friends: CANDLES IN THE WINDOW.” Dawnn’s concert schedule includes sold out performances at H.O.M.E in Beverly Hills, the Hands For Hope Jazz Festival and a sold out concert in the Cayman Islands for The CAYMAN HEART FUND. She’s recorded with or composed for Everett Harp, Patrice Rushen, Vanessa Williams, Nancy Wilson, Take 6, Weyman Tisdale, Grover Washington Jr., Quincy Jones, Michael Ward & Tom Scott (to name a few). She’s served the last 7.5 years on the National Advisory Board of the NATIONAL CENTER FOR CIVIL & HUMAN RIGHTS MUSEUM, & four terms on the SAG National Board of Directors, participating in it’s merger with AFTRA, while serving all 4 yrs as the National Co-Chair & Los Angeles Chair of the SAG now SAG-AFTRA Singers Committee. Dawnn also teaches Master Classes, mentors youth across the country, gives motivational lectures and lends her support to: EMPOWHER, The United Negro College Fund; Los Angeles Urban League, American Cancer Society; The March of Dimes; Youth Entertainment Studios; the Hall of Fame Foundation; Habitat For Humanity; The United States Conference on AIDS; The K.I.S. Foundation for Sickle Cell Disease; Artists For A New South Africa; Campfire Boys and Girls; The NBA/WNBA and other important causes.
Look for more detailed information about Dawnn on her Web site www.DAWNNLEWIS.com
FaceBook: Dawnn Lewis Official Fan Page
LELA ROCHON FUQUA
Lela Rochon won critical acclaim and the hearts of movie goers for her staring role in the hit film “WAITING TO EXHALE”, based on Terry Mcmillan’s best selling novel. She starred alongside Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine. Rochon-Fuqua was nominated for an MTV Movie award for “Best Breakthrough Perfomance” and a NAACP Image award for “Best Supporting Actress” for that role.
In 2015 she will be seen on the big screen in the independent feature “Supremacy” starring opposite Danny Glover and Derek Luke. And She will also star in the BET Original TV movie “LET THE CHURCH SAY AMEN”, directed by Regina King and based on the best-selling novel by Roshonda Tate Billingsly
Rochon made her feature film debut in 1989 opposite Eddie Murphy in the hit film “HARLEM NIGHTS” and is probably best remembered for her role as “SUNSHINE”. Lela has starred in many other films over the last 2 decades. Including, Oliver Stone’s “ANY GIVEN SUNDAY” as love interest to Jaime Foxx, “THE FIRST DAUGHTER” with Michal Keaton and Katie Holmes,” WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE” with Halle Berry and Vivica Fox, “BROOKLYNS FINEST” with Richard Gere, “GANG RELATED” with Dennis Quaid and the late, Tupac Shakur, “THE CHAMBER” based on the John Grisham novel, “KNOCK OFF” opposite Jean Claude Van Dame, “BOOMERANG”opposite Eddie Murphy and many others.
With versatility in both comedic and dramatic roles Lela has proven her extensive talent throughout her career. On the small screen she stared in the Civil Rights ABC TV movie “THE RUBY BRIDGES STORY” and SHOWTIME’S “MR AND MRS
LOVING” opposite Timothy Hutton, which also earned her a Cable Ace Award nomination for Best Lead Actress. She also starred in the Lifetime Series “THE DIVION” where she played Det. Angela Reed, and as Lisa on “THE WAYAN’S BROTHERS”. She guest starred in a host of TV shows including,” READ BETWEEN THE LINES”, “BOSTON PUBLIC”, “THE COSBY SHOW”, “FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR”, and many others.
In 1996 she was chosen as one of People Magazine’s, “50 Most beautiful People in the World.” And in 2002 as, one of the “10 Sexiest Black Women in America”.
Lela is married to Director ANTOINE FUQUA, and resides in Los Angeles with her children, Asia, Brando and Zachary.
Mara Hall is best known for her role as Nurse Kathleen on the award-winning ABC series Grey’s Anatomy. She made her national TV debut on the hit show "Dance Your Ass Off" as one of the contestants on Oxygen's reality dance/weight loss competition series. Fans saw another side of the Detroit native in the lead role of Auntie May in the horror/indie feature film Death Factory early this year.
In 2015, she will star in the indie comedy film It’s Gawd!, directed by Gerald Brunskill, starring opposite of Tommy Chong. Mara is on a role having booked several guest appearances for 2015, as well as preparing to launch her, I Got Something To Say #IGSTS, social media movement lifestyle show that empowers though laughter.
Richard studied Theater and Black studies at California State University in home town Oakland, California. After Graduate Work in Multimedia Theater, he joined the faculty of Laney College and continued his passion for illuminating culture through production. Leaving full time academia for the New York Theater renaissance, Richard appeared in, or directed many regional plays and received numerous awards including a prestigious fellowship in Performing Arts Management. ON Broadway, he appeared in Richard Wesley’s, The Mighty Gents. Notable was Mr. Gant’s groundbreaking work combining South African and African American stories and actors.At the Lincoln Center he directed Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis in LETTERS FROM MANDELA. His cultural and political involvements led him to West Africa, where for a year, he managed a political campaign. In the 1990’s Richard moved to Hollywood to concentrate on Television and film. For several decades he has appeared as a host of characters in a multitude of feature films and television stories. Mr. Gant recently completed the TBS series, MEN OF A CERTAIN AGE.
Richard Gant can be seen in the latest episodes of BET’s THE GAME and Bounce TV’s FAMILY TIME.
Richard’s new direction, encompassing the old, focuses on knowledge of culture. He collaborates along the Digital Frontier searching for solutions to enable communication between the Diaspora’s many cultures.
Theatre Impresario & Director;
Adleane has a penchant for producing and directing new plays. Her commitment to the development of playwrights and new works is well known. She is the CoFounder and Producing Artistic Director of Black Artist Network Development (BAND).
Her numerous directing credits include the World Premiere of Loretta Devine’s one-woman show PIECES OF ME; the 1989 World Premiere of Samm-Art Williams’ WOMAN FROM THE TOWN at Inner City Cultural Center, starring Roxie Roxer and Loretta Devine. WOMAN FROM THE TOWN won five (5) NAACP Image Awards; the 1984 International Olympic Arts Festival Winner for Best Play- MOVIN’ ON: Seven Decades of Black Entertainment.
She co-produced the West Coast Equity production of Pearl Cleage’s BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY starring Loretta Devine & James Avery at the Los Angeles Theatre Center; produced in association with the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department; the West-Coast premiere of LOUIE AND OPHELIA by Gus Edwards featuring Vanessa Bell Calloway & Ted Lange; the premiere of RSVP: LANGSTON by Victor Kervia- Smith.
Her relationship with NEC playwright Gus Edwards has given birth to two world premieres -- BLACK WOMAN’S BLUES & Mr. Edwards’s first musical BLACK RESURRECTION: The Easter Story, which she produced and directed.
Other new works include the World Premiere of Javon Johnson’s CRYIN’ SHAME, starring Malcolm Jamal Warner, Dick Anthony Williams and Art Evans. CRYIN’ SHAME broke the attendance records at the North Carolina Black Theatre Festival; Sara Finney-Johnson’s Simple Things & Mazel Tov, Fylicia Renee King’s MAMA WAS A BAD MUTHA . . . SHUT YO’ MOUTH!
Under BAND, she commissioned & produced equity workshops of Marcia Leslie’s The Trial of One Short-sighted Black woman versus Mammy Louise and Safretta Mae and Eugene Lee’s EAST TEXAS HOTLINKS.
She is a member of Stage Directors & Choreographers (sdc)