In my head, Clifton Powell is my homeboy. Ever since I first saw Menace II Society in 1993 and Chauncey called Kane a “cockblockin’ motherfucker”, I knew there was something special about him. Roughly an almost literal hundred thousand trillion roles later, I’m still rockin’ with him. When I fire up Netflix, sometimes I search for his name just so I can add each movie to the queue. Because I’m going to watch it. Because Clifton Powell is good all the time, and all the time Clifton Powell is good. I don’t know how or why he decided to become one of the greatest role players in Black American history, Blacking up the screen in new and innovative ways each time our, but it is an achievement for which he does not get enough credit.
Should I ever get a budget big enough to do this, I will personally fund, construct, and smile to the high heavens as Clifton Powell cuts the ribbon on the Clifton Powell Hall of Fame for Role Players in the Realm of Black Excellence at Cinematic Arts. Clifton Powell is deserving. He plays roles that I didn’t even know I’d want to see until he’s in there. He is in movies that I do not know exist until I search his name. Then do you know what I do? I watch those movies. Who Made The Potato Salad? He was there. A Weekend with The Family? He was there.
99 North? Yep. Note to Self? There too. The Marriage Chronicles? The Preacher’s Son? The Undershepherd? The Gospel? Yep. Word. Sho you right. You betta know that. He was there. If there’s a Black movie that didn’t quite hit the mainstream in the past 20+ years, there’s a really, really good chance that Clifton Powell the Great is there, moving along the story, being stoic, Blackin', ushering in the talents of those around him in order to deliver the best movie possible with whatever material is present. Are all of his movies good? Absolutely not. But will I watch them anyway? Of course I will. Any actor who has put in so much work in so many different ways, all for the art of Black Excellence deserves a few hours of my time. Clifton Powell is an inspiration.
He is also not alone. There are a lot of actors and actresses who have contributed to Black Excellence in their roles as role players, ensuring that we can heal the world, make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race. They make Black movies of varying quality, but the truth is, whether a bad Black movie or a not bad one, they are I and I are them, sometimes conflicted, sometimes with lines, but always with Black in my heart. I’m pretty sure that was the original new tag line for TVOne but they somehow ended up at Represent even though the 90s called and want their style back. I'm guessing they asked Ja Rule for advice.
Who are these other purveyors of Black Excellence? I’m glad you asked. Here are 8 inductess into the CPHOFfRPitRoBEaCA, which certain needs to be a thing. Also, I have no idea how to shorten that.
1. Jason Weaver
Nobody has had as storied career as Jason Weaver. Hook Singer. Verse singer. Album dropper. TV Actor. Movie Actor. Dancer. Gold Teeth Savant. Animated Film Singer. If it needs doing, Jason Weaver can do it. He’s been Michael Jackson AND Simba, easily two of the most iconic Black people to have ever lived. He’s been in Chingy videos with Keisha Knight-Pulliam. Where has he ain’t been? Know what I’m sayin? He shows up in the most random of movies but the key words there are that he shows up. Jason Weaver, I salute you. From bigger films like ATL and Drumline to lesser films like He’s Mine, Not Yours and Note to Self, Jason Weaver, you keep on keepin’ on.
2. Tatyana Ali
Ashley Banks brought you the original acclaim. Little did we know that it wasn’t that you couldn’t stop, it’s that you wouldn’t stop. From roles on the small screen to the big (ish) screen, and starring in meta-ass roles in both Brother and The Brothers, AND dropping an album as well, Tatyana Ali does it like she’s doing it for TV because she still is and always will be. Take that. Take that.
3. Rick Gonzalez
Unless you pay attention, you might not know the name immediately. And that’s a shame. He was playing basketball then quitting then gangbanging then playing again and taking errant three pointers in Coach Carter (who saved his life), he was a founding member of the Biker Boyz in the movie of the same name, he was in November Rule, a c-level Black movie where he sold shoes, and don’t even get me started on Deuces where he used all of the skills from every movie he’s been in to come up with his character’s (Papers) ethos. Perhaps he’s always the bridesmaid, but he’s getting all the free drinks because he’s always on your screen somewhere. Plus he was in Roll Bounce, easily one of the best movies to ever come out ever.
4. Monica Calhoun
She might always be Ebony from The Player’s Club to you, but she managed to find her a man in Lance in the Best Man though she bought the farm in the sequel. She’s been around in c-level movies and major TV shows, and Love & Basketball ruining Monica’s relationship though I guess she only went to Burger King. She’s put in the time. She got her spot.
5. Meagan Good
This woman needs no introduction, but I’ll say this and keep it short and sweet, she played the shit out of the role in Waist Deep, which was no easy feat because this movie also stars Game as a dude named Big Meat, which, yeah. Then again all she had to do was be fine. Meagan Good has been around as long as most of us have playing the second banana but excelling at it and making EVERYBODY look good in the process.
6. Wendy Raquel Robinson
Do you know why she’s a first ballot HOFer? Because of her role as Piggy aka Principal Regina Greer, love foil to Mr. Steve Hightower aka Steve Harvey. She single-handedly made it believable that it was possible for him to be a love interest. No work she did as Tasha Mack comes close to being as “actish” as that role. Wendy, you are a true American hero.
7. Christian Keyes
Christian Keyes is a difficult one to nail down. He’s out here creating his own movies, and trying to put positive imagery out there. But he’s also never going to rise to the level that I’m sure he believes he should be at. Then again, maybe he’s exactly where he wants to be, happily in control of his career. Whatever the case may be, Christian Keyes is somebody who is another must watch for me on the Black movie circuit. If he’s in the movie I’m watching it. And he’s usually the guy with a good heart who’s still a nigga so he’s definitely banging your daughter, but ultimately he only wants to do what’s right and love everybody. And even though the majority of his movies have titles that sound like plays that Tyler Perry rejected, they all seem to bring me joy. Christian Keyes is doing what Shemar Moore wanted to do only folks gave Shemar more shots because he was prettier. Yet, I never look for Shemar Moore credits. Only Christian Keyes. Salute.
8. Jazsmin Lewis
While she is not Mike Jones, you might be asking yourself, who? This woman has 64 acting credits on IMDB, three which include Barbershop where she played Calvin’s wife. But she brings so much more to the table. She shows up in movies that you don’t see coming, often times with other inductees into the HOF. Her work in I Do…I Did and Traci Townsend is legendary. It’s not legendary.