‘Menace II Society’: Where Are They Now?

Twenty years later, catch up with Larenz Tate, the Hughes brothers and the big star you forgot was in it.

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    New Line Cinema/Getty Images

    On May 26, 1993, a gritty, violent crime drama set in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles and directed by twin brothers named Allen and Albert Hughes opened in theaters. Critics loved it, and in the 20 years since it was released, the film, which follows a teenage drug dealer who commits heinous crimes with his friends but ultimately decides he wants a better life, has only increased in popularity. To commemorate the film’s anniversary, take a look at what the cast has been up to over the past two decades.

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    New Line Cinema

    Tyrin Turner, Then

    Turner had small roles in Hangin’ With Mr. Cooper and Deep Cover before landing the lead in Menace II Society. His character, Caine, was caught up in several circumstances after he graduated high school in Watts, Los Angeles. A Korean store robbery and homicide, too many shootouts, getting kicked out of his grandparents’ house and getting a girl pregnant. Sadly, he was killed on the eve of his migration Down South.

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    Tyrin Turner in 2002 (Maury Phillips/WireImage) 

    Tyrin Turner, Now

    Turner, now 42, is starring opposite Nichole Galicia in Jamie Foxx’s upcoming short film for Canon’s “Project Imaginat10n,” which was filmed in Brooklyn, N.Y., earlier this month. You might also remember seeing Turner in Hype Williams’ 1998 film Belly, as the banana-eatin’, fresh-permed Big.

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    New Line Cinema

    Larenz Tate, Then

    “Now O-Dog was the craziest n—-r alive. America’s nightmare. Young, black and didn’t give a f–k.”

    Tate, who started out as a child actor, appeared in a number of family sitcoms before landing the decidedly not-family-friendly role of O-Dog. He was Caine’s braid-wearing, off-the-rails best friend. Since Tate’s portrayal of O-Dog, the name has become synonymous with being a fearless gangster in pop culture.

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    Larenz Tate in 2013 (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

    Larenz Tate, Now

    This year, Tate, whose busy acting career in the ’90s included notable starring roles in Love Jones, The Inkwell and Why Do Fools Fall in Love? recently had a recurring role on Showtime’s House of Lies as Malcolm Kaan. He is slated to co-star with Craig Robinson in an NBC pilot next fall as Kevin, a ladies’ man who’s never had a regular job.


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    Allen and Albert Hughes (Facebook)

    Allen and Albert Hughes, Then

    Menace II Society was the Hughes brothers’ first film. Albert was quoted in GQ saying that they “made the movie for white people.” Produced when they were 21, the movie premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

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    Allen and Albert Hughes (Eugene Gologursky, WireImage)

    Allen and Albert Hughes, Now

    Allen Hughes is directing a series for FOX called Gang Related, co-starring RZA. Allen directed Broken City, released in early 2013, starring Mark Wahlberg and Russell Crowe. In 2012, Allen and Albert directed The Book of Eli.

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    Jada Pinkett Smith and Tyrin Turner (New Line Cinema)

    Jada Pinkett Smith, Then

    Best known at the time as Lena from A Different World, Pinkett Smith’s character Ronnie was Pernell’s ex-girlfriend, who had built a special connection with Caine since Pernell had been in jail. She landed a job as an administrative assistant in Atlanta and insisted that Caine move South with her and her son Anthony.

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    Getty Images

    Jada Pinkett Smith, Now

    Pinkett Smith starred on Lifetime’s Hawthorne from 2009 to 2011. She was an executive producer for the documentary Free Angela and All Political Prisoners this year. Earlier this month, Shadow and Act reported that she will star opposite William Levy in a romantic drama titled Salsa.

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    Glenn Plummer in 2001 (J. P. Aussenard, WireImage)

    Glenn Plummer, Then

    Plummer, a seasoned actor, played Pernell, who was like a father to Caine before he was locked up. But after a while, Caine got close to Ronnie (Jada Pinkett Smith), the mother of Pernell’s son, and stopped visiting Pernell in the pen. But to Caine’s surprise, Pernell insisted that he go with Ronnie and their son to Atlanta.

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    Glenn Plummer in 2009 (Jesse Grant/WireImage)

    Glenn Plummer, Now

    Plummer has a long pretty long résumé. You might remember him in 1995’s Showgirls. Or perhaps as Timmy Rawlins on ER for several seasons. He has a few upcoming films according to iMDB, including a film that he wrote and directed, titled Calista House. In 2011, he was sued for dropping out of a film for which he had already been paid.


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    New Line Cinema

    Jullian Roy Doster, Then  

    A young Doster portrayed Anthony, Pernell and Ronnie’s son. He admired Caine and wanted to hang with his crew. Caine, in the midst of a shootout, did everything he could to protect the little guy from gunfire.


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    Jullian Roy Doster, Now

    Doster hasn’t appeared on screen since his role on Menace. However, this video shows Doster supporting his childhood friend, Jordan Farmar, former Los Angeles Lakers point guard. As of 2009, he was an aspiring rapper with the moniker — you guessed it — “Menace.”


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    New Line Cinema

    Samuel L. Jackson, Then

    If you blink, you might miss Jackson in this role as Tat Lawson, Caine’s father, but he had a quick yet memorable altercation — “Look here, man. Now that you been out the joint two weeks don’t you think it’s about time you gave me my money?” — at a card table with James Pickens Jr. in a flashback scene.

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    Getty Images

    Samuel L. Jackson, Now

    Everyone knows what Samuel L. Jackson has been up to. He stays busy in Hollywood. His last appearance was as Stephen in Django Unchained, and he has several movies set to debut in the next year. Last year, he hosted the BET Awards.

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    Getty Images

    Khandi Alexander, Then

    Alexander landed the role of Karen Lawson, Caine’s heroin-addicted mother who died when Caine was very young, after appearing in several Broadway shows and choreographing Whitney Houston’s world tour.

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    Getty Images

    Khandi Alexander, Now

    Alexander has had some very hefty roles on screen since her short appearance on Menace. She played Francine “Fran” Boyd, a crack-addicted mother in Baltimore, on HBO’s The Corner, and she also starred in Simon’s Treme, as LaDonna Batiste-Williams.

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    Brandon Hammond in Soul Food (20th Century Fox)

    Brandon Hammond, Then

     In his pajamas with footies, Hammond, as a young Caine, looked up to Pernell in a brief scene early in the film. Pernell gave him a sip of liquor and even let him hold his gun. This was Hammond’s first feature film role.


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    Brandon Hammond, Now

    The child actor landed choice roles in ’90s films such as Waiting to Exhale, Soul Food and Mars Attacks, but Hammond hasn’t appeared on screen since the early to mid-2000s when he was in the TV movie Our America and an episode of The West Wing. He is, however sporadically, on Twitter, and describes himself as a “writer and aspiring filmmaker, and all-around swell guy.”

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    Reginald Ballard in Martin (Fox)

    Reginald Ballard, Then

    Ballard’s character Clyde was one of Pernell’s friends. He had a brief appearance in the film in a flashback scene with Caine’s parents.

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    Getty Images

    Reginald Ballard, Now

    We all loved Ballard as “Bruh man from da fif’ flo” on Martin. And apparently, he’s held close to that role on Twitter. Since Menace, he’s also had recurring roles on The Bernie Mac Show and Crumbs.

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    James Pickens Jr. in 2002 (WireImage)

    James Pickens Jr., Then

    In a flashback scene with Caine’s parents in the ’70s, Pickens was the victim of Tat Lawson’s rage at a card party.

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    Getty Images

    James Pickens Jr., Now

    Who doesn’t love Dr. Richard Webber on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy? He can also be seen in this year’s 42, and he played Queen Latifah’s father in Just Wright. He’s held several recurring roles on TV shows over the years, including The Practice, Roseanne and The X-Files.

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    New Line Cinema

    June Kyoto Lu, Then

    “Hurry up and buy!” Lu played the “grocery store woman,” and her signature line could not have been better spoofed than it was in this clip.

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    June Kyoto Lu in 2010's Lady in the Water (Warner Bros.)

    June Kyoto Lu, Now

    Lu has kept a steady career in Hollywood since her appearance on Menace. She’s had several one-off roles in Gilmore Girls, ER, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The New Normal. According to iMDB, her next role is the character Pauline Lin in We Are Family, featuring Christian Keyes, RonReaco Lee, Frenchie Davis and Wanita “D. Woods” Woodgett. (Straight to DVD, perhaps?)

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    New Line Cinema

    Toshi Toda, Then

    “I feel sorry for your mother.” It was a wrap for Toda’s “grocery store man” when he uttered these fateful words to O-Dog. The teen was trigger-happy and ready to explode, and this comment sent him over the edge.

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    Courtesy of Toshi Toda

    Toshi Toda, Now

    Toda has had a steady career, appearing in several TV series including Touched By an Angel, Without a Trace, Entourage and iCarly.

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    New Line Cinema

    Arnold Johnson, Then

    “Caine, do you care whether you live or die?” Caine didn’t know the answer to his grandfather’s question until it was too late. Johnson, as Grandpa, preached to Caine and O-Dog about doing what’s right, but scripture and religion went “in one ear and out the other.”

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    Arnold Johnson, Now

    Johnson had a recurring role on ABC’s Family Matters in the ’90s. He played Fletcher Thomas, Grandma Winslow’s love interest — to Carl’s dismay. Johnson died in 2000 in Los Angeles.


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    New Line Cinema

    Ryan Williams, Then

    Williams’ character Stacy was determined to make it out of the hood. He had a scholarship to college in Kansas and hoped to be able to provide a better life for his kids.

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    Unreality Magazine

    Ryan Williams, Now

    Williams appeared in two more hood classics in the ’90s: Tales From the Hood and Dead Presidents, also directed by the Hughes brothers. He also appeared in The Hurricane with Denzel Washington.



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    New Line Cinema

    Vonte Sweet, Then

    Sharif was trying to get out of the hood, too. He was planning to go to Kansas with Stacy, but he was shot in the last scene of the film.


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    Vonte Sweet, Now

    Sweet’s last on-screen appearance was in 2000’s Traffic. From his Facebook page, it’s clear he’s nostalgic about his Menace role.


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    New Line Cinema

    MC Eiht, Then

    MC Eiht’s A-Wax character was part of Caine and O-Dog’s crew. You’ll remember him refusing cheeseburgers that O-Dog got after beating up Basehead for offering, um, sexual acts in exchange for money.

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    Getty Images

    MC Eiht, Now

    Last year, MC Eiht was featured on Kendrick Lamar’s song “m.A.A.d city.” As far as acting goes, he appeared in Who Made the Potatoe Salad? in 2006.

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    New Line Cinema

    Clifton Powell, Then

    Powell had several credits under his belt by the time he played Chauncy, was part of the crew and overstepped his boundaries when he pushed up on Ronnie at a party.

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    Getty Images

    Clifton Powell, Now

     On average, Powell has done about seven movies per year since 2003. (No, for real.) He is in (guesstimating here) one out of three straight-to-DVD/Netflix movies featuring predominately black casts. Love for Sale? Check. 35 and Ticking? Yep. Who Made the Potatoe Salad? Of course! He’s also been in some mainstream hits, including a recurring role on Lifetime’s Army Wives and in the 2004 biopic Ray.


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    New Line Cinema

    Bill Duke, Then

    “You know you done f—ed up, don’t you?” Duke, as the detective on the case against Caine in the liquor store robbery and homicide, asked.

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    Getty Images

    Bill Duke, Now

     Duke’s documentary, Dark Girls, on the issue of colorism in the black community will make its television debut on OWN in June. He has directed several films since his short appearance on Menace, including Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit and Hoodlum.


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    New Line Cinema

    Charles S. Dutton, Then

    “You gotta think about your life. Being a black man in America isn’t easy. All I’m saying is survive.” Dutton, as Caine’s former teacher Mr. Butler, offered advice that really hit home for Caine, and it seemed as though he was finally about to turn his life around and leave South Central Los Angeles for a better life.

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    Getty Images

    Charles S. Dutton, Now

     After starring throughout the ’90s in the TV series Roc, Dutton has appeared in several TV series including The L Word and most recently Zero Hour. In 2012, he directed The Obama Effect and in 2000, he directed the HBO mini-series The Corner.


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    New Line Cinema

    Erin LeShawn Wiley, Then

    Wiley’s Ilena was one of Caine’s flings who eventually called to tell him that she was pregnant. His response? “Stop lying, alright. Besides I had the jimmy on extra tight.”

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    Courtesy of Erin LeShawn Wiley

    Erin LeShawn Wiley, Now

    Most recently, Wiley has appeared in Southland and Love That Girl! Shortly before filming Menace, she appeared as “groupie 1” in The Jacksons: An American Dream.

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