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DEFENDER | FEBRUARY 11 | 2016

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entertainment

Shawn Hamilton

Houstonian plays MLK onstage

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By JASEMINE KNOWLES Defender

ctor Shawn Hamilton is honored to “be in the shoes” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Hamilton portrays King in the play “All the Way,” which runs through Feb. 21 at the Alley Theatre. Hamilton grew up in Kashmere Gardens with his mother, who worked as an educator for HISD, and his father, who was a driver for an oil company. Hamilton attended Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, Lanier Junior High and the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, where he graduated in 1982. He enrolled in the University of North Texas, where he originally planned to become a musician. Shortly after taking a few classes in theater, he chose a new career. Hamilton has performed in more than 20 productions at the famed Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, with his most recent play being at the Alley in “A Christmas Carol.” “All the Way” centers around 1964, a pivotal year in American history when the 36th president of the United States, Lyndon Baines Johnson, and Dr. King joined together to pass the landmark civil rights bill that outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender or national origin. Here, Hamilton talks about his role and what makes the play different from other stories told about MLK. Defender: How did you start acting? Hamilton: I went to UNT as a music major and I came out playing the sax. During my time I started doing a little bit of theater and I enjoyed it. I eventually auditioned for Yale School of Drama in New Haven, Connecticut. I got in. I never thought I would be able to have this chance again so I just went for it. Defender: Why did you want to be involved in the production of “All the Way?”

Hamilton portray s Dr. Martin Luth President Lynd on B. Johnson in er King Jr. and Brandon Potter is the Alley Theatre ’s “All the Way.” amilton

Hamilton: I’ve played King a few times before and he is such a fascinating man. Playing the role of King was important to me because he is one of the reasons why we have real change today in this country. I was born in 1964 and during this time period of the mid-20th century – in which “All the Way” is set – it was the completion of freedom and for me growing up. Defender: How is this production bringing something new to this story? Hamilton: We have forgotten intricate details in our own history. Not many people know of King’s other speeches besides the “I Have a Dream” one. There is really so much more to King. He had a very complex philosophy and many people don’t Shawn H

know the real him. Most people who come to the show and leave surprised with the new information they get. Defender: How do you connect to the character? Hamilton: King was brilliant tactically and strong physically. Personally, to find someone who is courageous and a visionary such as King, and who is willing to take on such a huge role with his life being in constant danger, I find that very self-less, and that’s not always what I am. So for me, it’s about allowing myself to live and experience what it’s like to be in his shoes. Defender: What is your ultimate goal as an actor? Hamilton: To keep working and not starve. I also want to take on more projects that inspire me as I explore my art.

what’sup BEYONCÉ stole the show and the headlines with her halftime performance at Super Bowl 50. She was flanked by dancers who sported afros and black berets, reportedly in reference to the Black Panther Party. Beyoncé performed her new song “Formation,” which recently debuted with a music video. The video is set in New Orleans and features a wall that reads “Stop Shooting Us.” She also appears on top of a police cruiser sinking in water. In addition, there’s a cameo featuring BLUE IVY, the daughter of Beyoncé and JAY Z. The lyrics to “Formation” include the lines, “My daddy Alabama, momma Louisiana. You mix that Negro with that Creole make a Texas

‘Bama.” Beyoncé performed at the Super Bowl with CHRIS MARTIN, his group COLD PLAY and BRUNO MARS……..Actor MICHAEL B. JORDAN was a big winner at the NAACP Image Awards. He won Entertainer of the Year and Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for his role in “Creed.” The film “Straight Outta Compton,” which tells the story of the rap group N.W.A., picked up the Outstanding Motion Picture prize. SANAA LATHAN won Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture for her performance in “The Perfect Guy.” O’SHEA JACKSON JR., the son of ICE CUBE, won Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for “Straight Outta

Compton.” PHYLICIA RASHAD won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for her role in “Creed.” Another big winner was the ABC sitcom “black-ish.” It won Outstanding Comedy Series, and Image Awards host ANTHONY ANDERSON won Outstanding Actor in a Comedy Series. His co-star TRACEE ELLIS ROSS won Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series, and 11-year-old Texas actress MARSAI MARTIN, who plays their daughter, won Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. “Empire” was another winner, with TARAJI P. HENSON and TERRENCE HOWARD taking home awards.

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Houston Defender: February 11, 2016  

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