Hollywood Weekly Showcases Douglas Vermeeren at Oscar's Party

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Celebrating Diversity In The Entertainment Industry

Letter From The Editor


to another issue of Hollywood Weekly!

We're at the Oscars this month! Highlighting the best in film, we get to find out the winners for the 96th Annual Academy Awards.

On the cover of this month's issue is Douglas Vermeeren, an actor making his mark in the Indie scene. He starred in multiple independent films last year, including Tenants and The Lurker. This incredible actor has already done so much; with many more roles coming his way, he’s ready to take them on!

We also have two wonderful articles by Meredith Beal, Hollywood Weekly’s Africa Editor! He covers the history of African American music in a wonderful and insightful way. He also poured his heart into writing about Haiti, who isn’t getting enough love during these difficult times.

Like keeping busy? Cozy up at the movie theater with some popcorn this weekend, because we have some of the most anticipated movies of the year. There’s something for everyone in this month’s ROUNDUP!

Need something new to watch? We’ve got you covered! We’ve highlighted some new movies and TV shows coming out in the next month; you can find these in theaters or on some of your favorite streaming platforms.

We also feature two other incredible people in this issue: Navita Manchanda and David Koning.

Thank you, readers, for once again supporting Hollywood Weekly Magazine. We are nothing without you.

Prather Jackson

READERS Celebrating Diversity In The Entertainment Industry DOUGLAS VERMEEREN DON’T FORGET ABOUT HAITI PAGE 20 PAGE 30 MAKING WAVES IN THE INDIE SCENE NOMINATIONS FOR THE OSCARS PAGE 16 PUBLISHER/EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Prather Jackson VICE PRESIDENT Bernice Harris CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Alex A. Kecskes Brandon Webster Carmelita Pittman LIFE & STYLE EDITOR Niki Shadrow Snyder niki@projectpopdrop.com DESIGN & PRODUCTION Emma Willett Ryan Newman Brandon Webster SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR Marci Chorpash AFRICA CORRESPONDENT & AMBASSADOR Egor Kelly Egorefiok@gmail.com AFRICA EDITOR Meredith Beal +254 715 508964 meredithcbeal@gmail.com BRAZIL OPERATIONS Fabio Glingani Rico@lapenda.net (310) 567-3333 VIETNAM OPERATIONS Dr. Emily Letran coachemilyletran@gmail.com DISTRIBUTORS CoMag MADER NEWS Phone: (424) 228-9849 Email: HollywoodPublisher@gmail.com Instagram: @hollywoodweekly Twitter: @hollywoodweekly Website: hollywoodweeklymagazine.com Hollywood MONTHLY is a publication wholly owned by Prather Jackson HOLLYWOOD WEEKLY MAGAZINE LLC. © 2024 All Rights Reserved. Reproduction of any content without written permisssion of the publisher is expressly prohibited. Letters to the editor may be sent to: HOLLYWOODPUBLISHER@GMAIL.COM. 8345 Reseda Blvd #117, Northridge, CA 91324. For advertising inquiries call: (424) 371-9900 DOUGLAS VERMEEREN Making Waves 22 16 96TH OSCARS Nominations MEREDITH BEAL Don’t Forget About Haiti 32 04 ROUNDUP Entertainment HERE’S WHAT WE’VE GOT! ...and more!
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is something worth celebrating, and for those who have seen the journey of the dragon warrior since the beginning, this next entry is bound to savor an appetite. Now back and better than ever, "Kung Fu Panda 4" meets the return of the Dragon Warrior, now with another imposing villian that will leave this fat, lovable panda on the ropes: The Chameleon. With an enemy that can change form at will, based on warriors of the past, Po must now put his skills to the test and find a way to thwart an enemy who can match even his own power.

Kung Fu Panda has become one of the most anticipated films for viewers everywhere, as Dreamworks has shown us an amazing overarching story of growth in strength, peace, and maybe with a side of hunger, since the beginning. With Jack Black returning to take the helm of this panda's next step in his journey, viewers couldn't be more excited to see what lies ahead with this

trepidatious matter of affairs. However, with the help of a small, cunning, yet very skilled thief named Zhen, voiced by Awkwafina, Po must seek the answers to defeating this unique enemy, and in tandem, understand his true potential.

This film has had many people intrigued, after watching this goofy panda, slowly but surely, grow into a fierce warrior with every previous entry, they have wondered what's next. This has been true for every previous film in this astonishingly endearing character, which Dreamworks has taken the time and care to dedicate to those who have been watching since the beginning. Since 2008 when the first film sparked the most awesome kind of pandemonium, fans have been eager to see Po overcome every obstacle, from himself or from his foes.

With a very talented cast, ranging from the king of awesomeness being voiced by Jack Black, alongside the undeniably fun Awkwafina, this dynamic duo has a lot

to show in terms of putting out a strong friendly dynamic on screen. With this duo at the helm, other talented actors such as Bryan Cranston, James Hong, and even Ian McShane returning to his role as Tai Lung, are sure to bring a very enjoyable experience in this fourth entry to the series.

The amount of extraordinary level of awesomeness has fans excited to see just what lies in this part of Po's journey, and what kind of growth is to be shown this time around. Throughout the course of this series dramatic and powerful messages of hope and tranquility in one's inner peace, this panda has shaped the hearts of many since the very beginning. As for what will happen in this film, audiences are wondering what will happen after the events that will transpire in this story, and what kind of course will Po face in his journey. Regardless, fans from all around the world will be able to see this powerful panda on the big screen soon.



PART ONE WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING, as the next entry to this amazing mythic and emotionally charged hero's journey has had people excited. Considered by many fans as one of the best science fiction movies this year, "Dune Part Two" has become a surprisingly favorable masterpiece by viewers since released on March 1st.

With Denis Villeneuve taking the helm as director of this dramatic tale, this entry of this series has already sparked universal acclaim, reaching the heights as the first part did back in 2021. Already, fans have seen the imaginative and surprisingly endearing path of direction being exactly what the book series was going for, which leaves people excited to see where things will go with this journey going forward.

This next part to this overarching story sees Paul Atreides, played by Timothée Chalamet, unites with Chani, played by Zendaya, alongside the Fremen while on an very destructive warpath of revenge against

the conspirators who destroyed his family. Given the high stakes and the fierce level of danger in this world full of sand, Paul must make a hard choice between the love of his life and the fate of the known universe, using his foresight into what may be terrible future that only he can foresee. What dangers lie ahead for this bunch? Only fate will hold the answer.

"Dune Part Two" has achieved a tremendous start on opening day, getting a high score on Rotten Tomatoes and even winning over high critic scores overall. Nailing a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes' Tomatometer, with an impressive 95% audience score, Villeneuve's adaptation on this book series has provided many fans a visual to give intrigue to this unique world. With a book series that has grown over the years in terms of popularity, Dune has a lot riding on this film adaptation, with the sincerity in the accuracies to the original source material.

With the positive reception of this second part to the dramatic tale a resounding success, fans do wonder how a potential third part could live up to expectations. Of course, while we still have a long ways of knowing how that will be executed, fans are already looking forward to seeing what Villeneuve can do through this point of the story. With a tale being as grandiose, spectacular and even consequential as this, the world of Dune does add a whole unique spin on the sensational series that has come out of both parts so far. Whatever will happen next, fans are itching to see what's next on the road to revenge.

These first two films are following the legacy that both Frank Herbert had started in 1965, and then continued by his son, Brian Herbert and writer Kevin J. Anderson. These films have a lot of expectations to meet, and so far, people have a good feeling about them. Going forward, we can only wait and see what happens next.




THING, as this mysterious tale of wonder that is shown through the lens of horror will have many people shaking in their beds. When a woman returns to her childhood home after many years, she is shocked to discover that her childhood imaginary friend has returned to haunt her now as an adult. This tale of revenge will leave a lot to the imagination, quite literally, as this old bear named Chauncey is not a good friend, as he is willing to show what happens what happens when you abandon a friend.

This film does have a lot of inspired points of imagination, or rather, by showing what imagination can do to your mind as the film gives a lot of intrigue with the plot. With director Jeff Wadlow even mentioning his inspiration from the hit-classic "Poltergeist", "Imaginary" hits the notes that can be seen from the nightmares that can be created when the mind. When taking the innocence

from one's childhood, looking back and seeing it through the eyes of adulthood, the surprisingly horrific aspect shows how those happy memories are spun into a nightmare.

This psychological thriller will make audiences rethink their childhood memories, as the concept of what makes an imaginary friend from childhood come back during adulthood, only to be on a path of revenge, would be like. Audiences have already taken a liking to this concept by Wadlow, as the progression of distinct unease from start to finish is almost hard to look away from. The uncertainty of what may or may not happen does give a very spooky and almost borderline terrifying outlook on how unexpected the imagination can be.

With DeWanda Wise playing as the mother and the source of this imaginary friend, she must find a way to put an end to this nightmare that she has unknowingly unleashed on her children. With the children

seen in the film, played by Taegen Burns and Pyper Braun, the tremendous acting of dread from this imaginary creature of deceit will manage to convince audiences the amount of fear that should be felt in the moment. Where the film goes will be surprising, but will also make viewers question their own imagination, from the past and even in the present.

No matter who you are, because even while you're no longer a child living a happy life, imagination running wild, that won't change as an adult. That imagination will always have an impact even when you grow up, as it will always shape the person you are, especially with your creativity. Thankfully, you won't find yourself being pursued by a teddy bear, as shown in this film. The core idea of this film studies a lot of key elements that people don't really think about when they're adults, but perhaps that could change when watching this film.



EVERY LITTLE THING IS GONNA BE ALRIGHT, at the tale of one of the most famous reggae artists of all time takes the big screen. As Bob Marley has made a dramatic impact in the world of music, we see how he left his footprint in the style that would soon be popularized by his songs that resonate with us to this day. As Reggae has stood the test of time as being one of the most impactful form of music, with the strong subsidiary beats being a huge focal point in the 70's, Bob Marley made his name through that strong impact, popularizing the Jamaican-originated style of music.

While we may have had tales like this shown in theaters before, with icons such as James Brown, Freddie Mercury and even Aretha Franklin getting their stories told, the story of Bob Marley takes on a very different feel in the journey to stardom. Taking on the fundamentals that Reggae can bring, even to this current generation, audiences can see

the era of when this unique style of music truly became the biggest, fantastical wonder of our time.

With British actor, Kingsley Ben-Adir taking on the role of this icon in the music industry, we can see the life of Bob Marley in a very interesting perspective. We see Marley overcome adversity to become the best of the best, as a Reggae musician starting out from the beginning, until being discovered and propelling to the very top. What makes this film a very tremendous story is that it really shows how revolutionary his style of music brought to the world, with positive vibes that are almost optimistic in the face of whatever negativity is effecting the world.

Through the challenging adversities that were faced back in the heyday of Bob Marley's upbringing, to now where his legacy lives on to this day, we can see how music can bring people together in the

positive vibes that he practically made in his craft. While Reggae may not be for everyone, this film helps pave a different outlook on the genre that not many people understand in what kind of vibes they bring to people. This film truly focuses on the music and how he was the true artist that had a dream to become a shining star in the world, and managed to take the world by storm through the kind of music from the Jamaican land he grew up in. In hindsight, we can see that he was a man of honest faith through what music could bring, and now, people can fully appreciate it through this film in its entirety.

The memories of Bob Marley can bring a lot of good vibes, along with the overall idea of what music can bring. With this film, people can not only hear, but now even see the amount of joy his music could bring, even now. Even if you are not personally a fan of Reggae, hearing the story behind this man could change that if given a chance.



LOVE HAS RISEN AND IS COMING ALIVE, as a very new take on the classic monster that shaped how we see terror on the big screen now has a more romantic take this time around. Of course, this is a very unique take on the classic horror icon, but through the modern spin on what makes Frankenstein so curious and redeemable.

Through this coming of age tale of romance and even borderline terror reminiscent of the classic Frankenstein monster, this film takes things to a whole new level. When a teenager named Lisa, played by Kathryn Newton, discovers her one true love is the legendary corpse himself, played by Cole Sprouse, we see how

much love can change somebody through influence, even from the gothic horror side of things, blood included, of course.

What makes things so unique with this tale is not just the theme of love, but really, how it is shown and told to the audience outright. Who says Frankenstein can't find love in a modern world and in the shape of a teenage romance, with a side of murder? That's what director Zelda Williams brings to the table with the very eye-opening tale of a girl who simply wanted to find love, but when she does, it doesn't simply lead to a happy conclusion. This love with a boy, who just so happens to be the infamous monster in horror films in the past, will lead her life

into a dark and very bloody path of violence. In this gothic tale, audiences see that even relationships can be influential, depending on who the partner is and, asks the question, what would a modern teenage romance be like with a monster like Frankenstein?

Audiences seem to find this romantic tale to be very enjoyable, with a unique concept that probably hasn't been seen since "The Bride of Frankenstein" back in the day. Where this romantic quest of heartthrobbing and even heart-stopping love will go is definitely interesting people. With the reimagining of this classic monster being brought into this kind of light, we can only wonder how will it end this time around.




especially when a girls trip to Tellahassee, Flordia takes on a wicked tailspin, when a mysterious case with upmost importance is found in a rental car. In this little road trip that soon changes to be a grand epic adventure of massive proportions, these two girls will soon realize that this journey of self-discovery will become one that isn't really just about themselves anymore.

From writers Ethan Coen and Tricia Cooke, we see the trails and tribulations free-spirited Jamie, played by Margaret Qualley, and demure friend Marian, played by Geraldine Viswanathan, are faced with enemies left and right, as they carry this case in a car that just so happened to be the one given to them. While this isn't the fresh start that these two were hoping for, this is definitely the beginning of a quest to stay on their path while avoiding a group of inept criminals. The aspects of true love,

especially when directly depicting same-sex relationships in a way that's feels almost hopeful and beautiful. We also see a very unique tale of survival that almost feels reminiscent of "Thelma and Louise", but with a familiar dynamic duo that feels similar to "Grace and Frankie" at the same time.

This dark LGBTQ comedy does come at left field, with the familiar aspects of a duo running away from people seen in previous films of the past, but with the style that Cohen brings in a way that feels unique and almost quirky to audiences. While there are aspects that are fun and raunchy, there are also areas that are commonly explored through the struggles of life and how even the threat of being taken down by criminals helps rediscover what love is all about.

With the tremendous oddball crackups and goosebump-filled pursuits, audiences have a very distinct feeling that this roadtrip will be a sleigh ride by itself.

What makes this sort of film interesting, especially with the message it brings in a LGBTQ sense is interesting in itself. Sure, we have had films that tackled this sort of thing in the past, but the aspect that "Runaway Dolls" has to offer truly makes it original in more ways than one. It's funny, it's endearing, and it can even bring hope to the eyes of those wanting to experience their own journeys of finding love. While not entirely bound by a chase by criminals, the film does bring a distinct level of passion in self-discovery that can be inspiring through the lens of an adventure like this.

It doesn't matter who you are as a person, because if you would like to see a good movie that ties to a life-changing journey, you deserve to see this story. As for the comedy, the criminals and the wild adventure, it is all just a part of the fun. As for how much fun it truly is, all that remains is to see it all for yourself.


New Upcoming Releases

Road House (2024) March 21

Only On Prime Video

Wicked Little Letters

March 29

Only In Movie Theaters

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire March 28

Only In Movie Theaters

Monkey Man April 5

Only On Theaters

Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire March 29

Only In Movie Theaters

Sasquatch Sunset April 12

Only On Theaters


New Upcoming Releases

The Amazing Race Season 36

March 13

Only On CBS

The Baxters

March 28

Only On Prime Video

Girls5Eva Season 3 March 14

Only on Netflix

Renegade Nell

March 29

Only on Disney+

Palm Royale March 20

Only on Apple TV+

Parish March 31

Only on AMC










The Holdovers




American Fiction



American Fiction


Killers of the Flower Moon





Poor Things





Killers of the Flower Moon


Anatomy of a Fall




Poor Things





The Color Purple






The Holdovers



Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki


Peter Sohn and Denise Ream


Nick Bruno, Troy Quane, Karen Ryan and Julie Zackary


Pablo Berger, Ibon Cormenzana, Ignasi Estapé and Sandra Tapia Díaz


Kemp Powers, Justin K. Thompson, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller and Amy Pascal



Edward Lachman


Rodrigo Prieto


Matthew Libatique


Hoyte van Hoytema


Robbie Ryan



Jacqueline Durran


Jacqueline West



Janty Yates and Dave Crossman


Ellen Mirojnick


Holly Waddington



Justine Triet


Martin Scorsese


Christopher Nolan


Yorgos Lanthimos


Jonathan Glazer



Moses Bwayo, Christopher Sharp and John Battsek


Maite Alberdi


Kaouther Ben Hania and Nadim Cheikhrouha


Nisha Pahuja, Cornelia Principe and David Oppenheim


Mstyslav Chernov, Michelle Mizner and Raney Aronson-Rath



Sheila Nevins and Trish Adlesic


John Hoffman and Christine Turner


S. Leo Chiang and Jean Tsien


Ben Proudfoot and Kris Bowers


Sean Wang and Sam Davis



Laurent Sénéchal


Kevin Tent


Thelma Schoonmaker


Jennifer Lame


Yorgos Mavropsaridis












Karen Hartley Thomas, Suzi Battersby and Ashra Kelly-Blue


Kazu Hiro, Kay Georgiou and Lori McCoyBell


Luisa Abel


Nadia Stacey, Mark Coulier and Josh Weston


Ana López-Puigcerver, David Martí and Montse Ribé



Laura Karpman


John Williams


Robbie Robertson


Ludwig Göransson


Jerskin Fendrix



THE FIRE INSIDE from Flamin’ Hot; Music and Lyric by Diane Warren

I’M JUST KEN from Barbie; Music and Lyric by Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt

IT NEVER WENT AWAY from American Symphony; Music and Lyric by Jon Batiste and Dan Wilson

WAHZHAZHE (A SONG FOR MY PEOPLE) from Killers of the Flower Moon; Music and Lyric by Scott George


from Barbie; Music and Lyric by Billie Eilish and Finneas O’Connell

Ke Huy Quan, Michelle Yeoh, Brendan Fraser and Jamie Lee Curtis (left to right) with their awards from last year’s Oscars.



Ben LeClair, Nikos Karamigios, Cord Jefferson and Jermaine Johnson, Producers


Marie-Ange Luciani and David Thion, Producers


David Heyman, Margot Robbie, Tom Ackerley and Robbie Brenner, Producers


Mark Johnson, Producer


Dan Friedkin, Bradley Thomas, Martin Scorsese and Daniel Lupi, Producers


Bradley Cooper, Steven Spielberg, Fred Berner, Amy Durning and Kristie Macosko Krieger, Producers


Emma Thomas, Charles Roven and Christopher Nolan, Producers


David Hinojosa, Christine Vachon and Pamela Koffler, Producers


Ed Guiney, Andrew Lowe, Yorgos Lanthimos and Emma Stone, Producers


James Wilson, Producer



Production Design: Sarah Greenwood; Set

Decoration: Katie Spencer


Production Design: Jack Fisk; Set

Decoration: Adam Willis


Production Design: Arthur Max; Set

Decoration: Elli Griff


Production Design: Ruth De Jong; Set

Decoration: Claire Kaufman


Production Design: James Price and Shona Heath; Set Decoration: Zsuzsa Mihalek



Misan Harriman and Nicky Bentham


Vincent René-Lortie and Samuel Caron


Lasse Lyskjær Noer and Christian Norlyk


Nazrin Choudhury and Sara McFarlane


Wes Anderson and Steven Rales


Tal Kantor and Amit R. Gicelter


Jerusha Hess and Jared Hess


Yegane Moghaddam


Stéphanie Clément and Marc Rius


Dave Mullins and Brad Booker



Jay Cooper, Ian Comley, Andrew Roberts and Neil Corbould


Takashi Yamazaki, Kiyoko Shibuya, Masaki Takahashi and Tatsuji Nojima


Stephane Ceretti, Alexis Wajsbrot, Guy Williams and Theo Bialek



Alex Wuttke, Simone Coco, Jeff Sutherland and Neil Corbould


Charley Henley, Luc-Ewen Martin-Fenouillet, Simone Coco and Neil Corbould



Ian Voigt, Erik Aadahl, Ethan Van der Ryn, Tom Ozanich and Dean Zupancic


Steven A. Morrow, Richard King, Jason Ruder, Tom Ozanich and Dean Zupancic



Chris Munro, James H. Mather, Chris Burdon and Mark Taylor


Willie Burton, Richard King, Gary A. Rizzo and Kevin O’Connell


Tarn Willers and Johnnie Burn



Written for the screen by Cord Jefferson


Written by Greta Gerwig & Noah Baumbach


Written for the screen by Christopher Nolan


Screenplay by Tony McNamara


Written by Jonathan Glazer



Screenplay - Justine Triet and Arthur Harari


Written by David Hemingson


Written by Bradley Cooper & Josh Singer


Screenplay by Samy Burch; Story by Samy Burch & Alex Mechanik


Written by Celine Song

For More Information About The Upcoming Awards Ceremony, Go To:




Over the last few years it seems like Douglas Vermeeren is appearing everywhere. For 2023, the talented actor has been in scores of independent films and main stream media and shows no signs of slowing in 2024.

This year, he has portrayed a police officer in charge of the horrific crime scenes in The Lurker by Adam Jack. The Lurker has been screening internationally since its release earlier this year and has won over sixty awards around the globe.

Soon thereafter, Vermeeren won a best supporting actor award for his role as the deranged building manager in the horror analogy Tenants. The film was directed by Buz Wallick and Sean Mesler. Tenants has been winning awards all around the world beginning with the Best Picture at the LA Film Festival, The LA Horror & Crime festival, The Cult Movies International Festival and several others.

This year will also see the release of the science fiction epic The Awakening by Aaron Glanfield. In The Awakening, Douglas Vermeeren is the villainous Alexander, selling his soul to the devil for immortality and magical powers. His objective is to capture several magical relics that will give him power over the last surviving colonies on Earth.

During the last year Douglas has also done several films abroad. The most well known were perhaps his work with UK director Chris Sanders. Vermeeren played the lead in the recently completed film Big Cats. In the film Vermeeren portrayed Sean Lorre, a movie producer fixated on capturing the elusive big cats that folklore suggests roam the UK country side. It’s an intriguing and horrific found footage tale that goes very wrong.

The Highgate Vampire was also completed earlier this year. Douglas Vermeeren was able to work in a few days for a small cameo in the film as Tobias. Not much has been said about this film but should be quite interesting when released. The Highgate Vampire is apparently a real legend about a true to life Vampire that has been seen shrouded in the nighttime shadows in the cemeteries near High Gate.

Later this year, Sanders and Vermeeren will team up again for a UK classic gangster film titled, “Clean Right Hook.”

It seems like the most dominant genre for Vermeeren this last year has been horror and thriller. Vermeeren is the news reporter Destry Webster in the horror film The Unseen. Just the title alone is enough to get fans of this genre feeling uneasy. This film by director Steve Merlo and trail-

ers are already available online featuring Vermeeren as the news reporter talking about the frightening disappearance of a young woman in the local area.

One of the more interesting projects for Vermeeren this year was portraying a retiring mafia don in the student film The Legacy directed by Izyan Ali. When asked about why he chose to participate in this ultra low budget feature Vermeeren answered, “The character and idea of the film was really interesting. It enters around the passing of the legacy in an organized crime family, from father to son. And I love to help student filmmakers as they begin their career. They love the art of moviemaking as much as I do. And student films can be one of the purest forms of filmmaking. And I am excited to support this kind of filmmaking.”

One of the more memorable projects

Douglas Vermeeren

showcased Douglas Vermeeren as the lead FBI agent in the true crime docuseries Mafia Spies directed by Tom Donahue appearing later this year on Paramount plus. This project featured Nick Annunziata from the hit series The Sopranos.

Most likely the most memorable film that Vermeeren participated in this last year may be one of the roles that he will be known for a long time going forward. In his second collaboration with director and writer Adam Jack. Vermeeren is the sinister villain Billy Lachance in the upcoming film Jackknife. Jackknife will be released at the TIFF Lightbox Theater on March 3, 2024 and then on to the film festival circuit globally. Jackknife will definitely be the film to watch on the film festival circuit with high expectations that it will sweep the festival awards. Adam Jack’s last film The Lurker scooped up more than 60 international awards and it is anticipated that Jackknife may do even better.

Vermeeren has already won a best actor award for his portrayal of Billy Lachance. The film centers around two black teenagers who have a white mother. The film explores several of the racial prejudices and difficulties faced by mixed race families and stereotypes that often follow blacks in a predominantly white environment.

The drama of the film grows as the teens are mistakenly suspected of serious crimes in their area which include the robbing of a convince store and murder

of the clerk. To protect themselves the teens go on the run and become the object of a search by the police, a concerned mother, a neighbour search effort and Billy Lachance bent on revenge for the death of his brother.

It is expected that Douglas Vermeeren will receive several nominations for his eerie and serpent-like portrayal of Lachance.

The film was shot on the outskirts of Toronto, Canada earlier this year. The advance screenings has audiences suggesting that this could the most intriguing independent film of the year.

There was another interesting shift in performances for Douglas Vermeeren this year as he voiced the character Rufus Gideon Bennett on the upcoming animated film Monster Hunters Inc. Monster Hunters Inc is based on the comic books

and novels of the same name. It’s a steam punk adventure that takes places in Victorian England in that late 1800’s. The fictionalized story claims to the be the beginnings of the steampunk movement as we know it. Essentially the story follows a band of misfit monster hunters with a mission to protect the world from supernatural monsters that are seeking world domination. It’s a fun animated project but definitely not for the faint of heart. The project features a very strong graphic kind of violence and is not for youngsters. It has been compared to violence of a Kill Bill style bloodbath in cartoon style.

Monster Hunters Inc. isn’t the only gory project that Douglas Vermeeren has been involved with over the last while. Douglas Vermeeren teamed up with director and writer Daniel Turres to portray Sheriff Rudy Bellamy in the upcoming slasher film, Fresh Meat. As this article comes out Turres’ last horror feature film, ‘Here for Blood’ is screening across North America and is rated as the top movie on Screambox with 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Douglas Vermeeren’s character Sheriff Rudy Bellamy is tasked with warning a group of internet influencers to stay out of an abandoned prison. Naturally they ignore the warnings of local law enforcement and enter the prison anyways. It isn’t long until they discover the secrets of why the prison has been locked up, condemned and abandoned. Sheriff Bellamy (Vermeeren) returns to hopefully rescue these disobedient influencers, but will he be too late?

Fresh Meat is in the final aspects of post production currently and should have a release later this year.

You’ll not only find Douglas Vermeeren in contemporary settings this year. You’ll also film him in the old wild west.

Scene from Jackknife Scene from Operation: Majestic

Vermeeren portrays one of the important villains in the new film by martial arts legend Cynthia Rothrock. Vermeeren plays Hank Winslow in Black Creek. Winslow is a sleazy and questionable business man in the old west running a series of gambling dens including a fighting pit. In this fighting pit Hank Winslow forces several martial arts legends to face off against each other in bloody brawls that often result in death. The film also features martial arts legends like Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Richard Norton, Keith Cooke (Mortal Combat) and many others. The film is slated to have a release date for summer of 2024. The graphic novel about the film will be releasing in the next few months and will be available in comic book stores everywhere.

Vermeeren barely slowed down as the new year arrived.

This last January he completed the Christmas Movie Home-less for the Holidays working with the Little Monster’s director Whit Whitman. The film featured Vermeeren alongside WWE superstar Al

Snow and others like John Wells and Darren Lee Cupp. The film is about a group of homeless people that find their way into the life of a busy multi-millionaire business person in a way that helps him get back to the heart-warming basics.

The film was an interesting experience for Vermeeren who admits he has never done a Christmas movie or comedy like this. “I had a lot of fun on this film. I am used to doing lots of physical activity with stunt work, but I hadn’t yet really done a lot of physical work in a comedy. I am used to explosions, fights and car stunts. But in this film I had one day where I was hit in the face with football, hit in the face with a pie and fell out of a Christmas tree, landed on top of a WWE star on the floor and then had the tree fall on both of us. It was really fun new experience. And yes the football hurt lol.”

Vermeeren shared that one of his favorite parts of working on this film was the relationship arc that takes place between himself and his daughter portrayed by Anah Marie Harrison. “I think the changes

between Ginger and her father Geoffrey were a really touching part of this movie and it was really fun to be part of that.”

The film is currently in post production. Although Home-less for the Holidays is a Christmas movie it is expected that it will have a May completion date.

Vermeeren just returned from Nevada where he played Callum in Bikers versus Werewolves for Mahal Empire. Callum is a part of a team of werewolf hunters in the center of a battle between a clan of werewolves and a group of bikers. The Mahal brothers are well known for their fun independent films featuring a handful of familiar faces. In addition to Douglas Vermeeren, Bikers versus Werewolves features Robert Lasardo (Nip/Tuck, CSI: Miami, Death Race), Glenn Plummer (Speed, Showgirls, Speed 2), Zachary Vazquez (Baywatch, The Vampire Diaries, Pain & Gain, Magic Mike XXL) and others.

There are very few actors who can keep up the pace that Douglas Vermeeren continues to set. The upcoming year looks as though he will be as busy. Vermeeren has committed to several upcoming films. We have permission to talk about only a few.

Unnatural 2 will be shooting in May of this year. This will be another collaboration with Whit Whitman from Little Monsters Entertainment. Rumour has it that Vermeeren will be playing a villain in this horror sequel.

Douglas Vermeeren will be heading to outer space for Terra 369. He will be playing the captain of a vessel that goes in search of a place where the human race can expand and inhabit in the near future. What they find on the planet is wonderful and terrifying at the same time. This film is a coproduction between WoW Boi Entertainment and Slateworks Pictures Inc.

In just a few short weeks Vermeeren will be joining the cast of the Boy from Below. This cast includes Dee Wallace (E.T., Cujo, The Howling, Critters), Felissa Rose (Sleepaway Camp, Krampus) and others. Vermeeren will be playing Denver Haywood, who is a movie star from decades past who is desperately trying to make a resurgence in his career. However things begin to go horribly wrong in this unique horror movie by director Tory Jones.

Douglas Vermeeren shows no signs of stopping or slowing down in the upcoming months. To the contrary it looks as though things are just going to continue getting busier for this rising star.

Top Left: Douglas as Hank Winslow in Black Creek Top Right: An upcoming top-secret project! Right: On the set of Fresh Meat



Hollywood Weekly’s Africa Editor, Meredith Beal, also serves as a delegate to the United Nations Environment Assembly and the African Union Assembly. In addition, he is an advisor to several governments and serves as Sr. Paramount Chief of the Bakholokoe Kingdom of southern Africa. He brings historical perspective and keen insights to United States International University — Africa’s Black History Month celebration, gleaning from his long expertise in entertainment, as an executive at Motown Records, Editor-in-Chief of a music trade publication and award-winning radio station owner.

The students at United States International University — Africa (USIU), decided to celebrate Black History Month this year by exploring the role that Black American art, music and culture have played in social activism, under the theme Africans, Black Identity and the Arts. USIU is a private university in Nairobi, Kenya, accredited by both the Commission for Higher Education in Kenya and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in the United States. USIU has students from more than 62 countries including students from 51 African countries.

“African Americans have played a central role in shaping U.S. history. From slavery and its abolition to the Great Migration, the civil rights movement and military, scientific, cultural and political achievements. This February, we are celebrating Black History Month with the theme 'African Americans and the Arts,'"  proclaimed Dr. Dashanaba King (aka) “Queen Mother,” as she set the tone for the month-long celebration. Dr. King explored some key players, moments and milestones

in Black arts. She profiled trailblazing inventors, Olympians, politicians, and numerous historical figures who have left their marks on American history. She shared the pioneering achievements of artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Edmonia Lewis and James Van Der Zee, early Black painters, sculptors and photographers of the mid-late 1800s. She reviewed the literary contributions of talents like Langston Hughes, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison and Alex Haley. She described the creativity of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and ‘30s and surveyed the broad range of music from Jazz, Blues and Gospel to R&B, Reggae and Hip Hop. Dr. King praised the genius of a host of Black inventors bringing innovation to the world in every arena.

Other activities during the month included a Black History Art Market, which showcased African attire and jewelry, food, wellness techniques, and other attractions. African Film Night featured a screening of the film, “The Woman King,” which celebrates African women warriors of the Dahomey Kingdom in what is now present-day Benin.

During the Closing Ceremony, H.E. Beal took the audience on a journey through the history of Black music. “The first human musical instruments were

Above: USIU Black History Month Poster Right: Jaliba Kuyateh, The Gambia

the voice, the clap of the hands and the stomping of the feet. The human body was humanity’s first multi-purpose, musical instrument and it could generate a variety of vibrations at various frequencies,” Beal explained. “Then came the drum.” And of course all of that started in Africa.

Ancient Africans along the Nile knew that when exposed to vibrations between 8 and 12 cycles per second, the brain goes alpha and is more capable of absorbing new units of information. The elaborate polyrhythms embedded in African music were not just for fun, they were for emotional nourishment, transmission of invisible cultural assets and to experience a cosmic connection with the Ancestors.

In addition to written scripts (languages), Africans had a number of drums scripts that would enable them to communicate between villages. These took the form of rhythmic patterns, tones and beats that would convey messages, stories, historical events, lineages and other kinds of information. These scripts were passed down orally and through master-disciple type relationships to preserve cultural heritage and to transmit knowledge across generations, Beal explained.

Generally, which musical instruments you wind up making had to do with what materials were available in your environment. In northern Africa, for example, historically, you don’t find many drummers because there’s few trees. The instruments you find there are flutes and reed instruments because that’s what’s available to make something with.

Beal showed an example of an indigenous African instrument invented by someone who had mastered playing it

and passed that knowledge and skill on to his son. And the son passed it on to his son and so one. There is a role in West African communities called a Jali, aka griots (which is a French word). The Jali’s job is to remember the tribe’s entire history and to propagate it through song. The lineages, the droughts, the natural disasters, the wars, every major thing that has happened to the people is voiced orally and passed on orally. Beal played an video of kora master Jaliba Kuyateh, in which he recalls finding his father playing the instrument, and his father found HIS father playing the instrument and so on for seven or eight generations. He is from the small West African nation called The Gambia on the Atlantic Ocean. The instrument was invented over 400 years ago by his family.

Everywhere Africans went they took their music with them. The process of cultural infusion and cultural diffusion plays out as cultures come into contact with one another and musical influences blend as cultures merge.

H.E. Beal fast forwarded a bit to the 1600s in the Americas. The transatlantic slave trade brought millions of Africans to North America, South America and the Caribbean and the music that emerged from all of those places you could consider Black music from the Americas.

Top: George W. Johnson (1846-1914)

There is a scholar named Dr. Portia Maultsby, Professor Emeritus at Indiana University, who did some amazing work tracing the evolution of Black American music from its origins in the 1600s to current times. Her work shows the intricate relationship between the social fabrics of community life as it manifests itself in rural areas as opposed to cities, how religion and spirituality influenced its evolution and how lifestyles mirrored the music. Her studies examine the impact of oppression and hard economic times on the nature of the music, leading to the emergence of what we call the Blues. Early Black American music consisted of work

Above: The Laughing Song (released 1898 and sold 50,000 copies) on the Edison cylinder roll.

songs, field songs and protest songs. Black American music always has had a protest element present.

“Now let’s move on to how technology has impacted how we make and share music. I’ll bet you no one in this room, or in this city or in the entire country knows who the first Black recording artist was,“ Beal said. “Anybody think they know?

“George W. Johnson was the first Black man to make a recording and that was in 1891. He also had the biggest selling recording in America in 1898. He recorded for Thomas Edison on a machine called a cylinder phonogram. The recording was Dr. Portia Maultsby, Professor Emeritus, Indiana University


done on a wax cylinder, engraving the audio information on wax,” Beal explained.

He sold 50,000 copies. There was no mass duplication back then. They would set up four or five ramophones around him and he would sing the song once. If he sang the song 100 times that day that would be 500 recordings. If he did that every day for one week that would be 3,500. He sold 50,000 copies that way! The title of the song was “Whistling Coon.” A “coon” back then was a derogatory term for a Black man. Johnson could whistle in pitch and wound up recording the same song while under contract with two different recording companies.

Over the years, the medium upon which recordings were made evolved as technology evolved. From that wax cylinder to vinyl records, to reel-to-reel tapes, to cassette tapes, to digital audio recording tape, to compact discs (CDs) to flash drives to SD cards, to ?????

Many African-American recording artists used their platform as a celebrity to raise attention to social injustices. The world famous singer Paul Roberson, was a concert artist, stage and film actor, professional football player, and activist who became famous both for his cultural accomplishments and for his political stances. Roberson was targeted by the House Un- American Activities Committee because he spoke out against American treatment of African Americans. He was blacklisted and prevented from working in the entertainment industry. The 1960s was a time of emerging independent nations in Africa starting with Ghana. Meanwhile, Africans living in South Africa we subject to the apartheid regime and systematic oppression. Black Americans resonated with their struggle and responded with protests and protest music, like this

Top: The Evolution of African American Music ©1992 Portia K. Maultsby, Ph.D. Left: An assortment of music players and a graphic of the evolution of music

song from Gil Scott Heron, point the Black community’s attention to our brothers and sisters there with the song “Johannesburg.”

During the 1960s the civil rights movement featured protest marches. Negro spirituals combined with protest songs provided the soundtrack for the civil rights and Black power movements. The struggle for identity accelerated during that period and we went from being called Negro to Black. The anthem propagating that identity throughout the nation was James Brown’s “I’m Black & I’m proud.”

The next emergence of powerful Black music came in the form of Hip Hop music, with groups like Afrika Bambata, Tribe Called Quest, KRS One and other conscious Hip-Hop artists breaking out. Artists like Ice-T and NWA (which stood for Niggers With Attitude), responded to the increasing police brutality in Black neighborhoods across the country with music albums boldy challenging authority.

Bob Marley took Reggae music and its message of One Love around the world. Reggae music became a harmonizing agent in the world uniting people of all colors. That cultural engine was surpassed by the cultural impact of Hip Hop music and culture, including lifestyle and

“The first human musical instruments were the voice, the clap of the hands and the stomping of the feet.”
Merideth Beal

fashion. All over the world you hear Hip Hop in nearly every language.

The Closing Ceremony also featured a speech and performance by Grammy-winning, Kenyan recording star Bien-Aime Baraza of the group Sauti Sol.

H.E. Beal challenged the students, leaving them with two thoughts:

“Black America taught the rest of America and eventually the world, how to celebrate. Whatever we do in that regard, everybody else does eventually, whether it’s a high five or a fist bump. People copy us all around the world. Africans used to be the standard. We can be the standard again.”

“The cover of The Economist magazine in the year 2000 read “Africa — The Hopeless Continent.” The cover in 2010 read “Africa Rising.” The cover in 2020 read “The African Century.” What will the cover read in 2030? That, my young brothers and sisters, is up to you.”

Dr. E. Dashanaba King (aka) Queen Mother is a business advisor, life coach, entrepreneur, youth mentor and university professor. She also hosts the talk show “Queen Mother Speaks.”

H.E. Meredith Beal with Musa Lenkupae Maasai Warrior.

Valhalla Makes an Impact on the Fashion Scene

In the weave of dreams, Navita's journey unfolds like a compelling tale—a story that started in her father's Indian hair business and led to the birth of Valhalla Hair World in Canada. When she arrived in 2017, life wasn't a smooth chapter—financial strains, a cold night on a Niagara Park bench, and a big move to Winnipeg.

Through the struggles, from failed PR attempts to battling depression, Navita's strength emerged. A pivotal return to India brought healing and sparked her entrepreneurial spirit. Enter her brother, the unsung hero, guiding and inspiring Valhalla—a brand that goes beyond business.

Valhalla became more than an online store; it became Navita's emotional sanctuary. Each product, from hair toppers to scrunchies, tells a tale of self-discovery. It's not just about fashion but a symbol of strength for women facing hair loss, offering a space for self-expression.

Navita's story, intertwined with her brother's influence, carries a universal message: beauty blooms through personal struggles. Valhalla Hair World is her triumph, a belief that every woman, no matter her journey, deserves to feel beautiful, confident, and empowered. Her brother, the backbone of this journey, shaped the vision without which Valhalla wouldn't be what it is.

In the end, it becomes a powerful affirmation that, with belief and perseverance, everything can work out, even in the face of life's challenges.



In addition to his extensive experience in the entertainment business, Hollywood Weekly’s African Editor is also a worldclass news journalist — a former hard news reporter for the Los Angeles Times and an award-winning radio broadcaster. He used his network of relationships to bring Haiti’s acting Prime Minister, H.E. Ariel Henry, to United States International University — Africa in Nairobi, Kenya, to conduct a Public Lecture in the midst of the pending deployment of peace-keeping forces from Kenya as part of a UN-sanctioned mission to curb gang violence in the Caribbean island nation.

With the world’s attention focused on Ukraine, Israel, Palestine and other matters, we must not forget about Haiti. Africa owes a great debt to Haiti as the pioneering state in the African liberation movement, the only state in history established by a successful slave revolt. It also is the first nation in the Caribbean and the third oldest democracy in the western hemisphere. The small, Caribbean nation of Haiti is experiencing a crisis demanding the world’s urgent attention. In addition to the myriad of problems that the Haitian people have faced from hurricanes and earthquakes, ostracism by the international community, assassination of their leaders, corruption, and a host of other issues. Haiti's economic and social development continues to be hindered by political instability and unprecedented levels of insecurity, impacting the most vulnerable element of the population. Haiti remains the poorest country in Latin America and the Caribbean region and among the poorest countries in the world. I feel like Haiti is STILL being punished for defeating Napoleon and the French.

Despite these daunting, pressing issues, the Haitian people remain resilient. However, the security situation in the country has deteriorated into a humanitarian crisis as the government is no longer functioning effectively in terms of its ability to protect the citizenry and the presence of dozens of violent gangs have ushered Haiti into a period of lawlessness and near chaos. The Haitian people call on their brothers and sisters throughout the African world for assistance.

Many want to help the people of Haiti and there are differing views and opinions about what could and should be done. There are those opposed to sending peace-keeping forces who believe the Haitian people should be left to solve the problems themselves. Others feel that

the only way the Haitian people can break free of the grip of other people’s agendas is with the combined clout and moral authority of a multi-national AFRICAN force. CARICOM, the economic block of Caribbean nations, issued a statement in support of the deployment. I recommended that either the Heads of State or the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the deploying nations go together to Guyana to meet with CARICOM so that everyone is on the same page, walking hand in hand to support our brothers and sisters in Haiti.

Any intervention has to be far more than policing. Any engagement must include addressing fundamental economic and social issues as well as re-establishing credible elections. Some people say Prime Minister Henry is a puppet, and there I am shaking hands with him. As a human being, I am always willing to engage in sincere dialogue for a constructive purpose with anyone. Y’all know I’m no puppet, yes man, sycophant, kiss ass or

“Kenya will stand with Haiti.”

—H.E. President William S. Ruto, Republic of Kenya

H.E. Meredith Clayton Beal

bitch ass. No puppet shit is going down on MY watch. I have solutions and I can help but my help comes with conditions.

With these varying opinions out there, I thought it would be great to hear directly from the Head of State what’s on his mind and do it in an academic environment, so I arranged with United States International University — Africa for Haitian Prime Minister H.E. Ariel Henry to give a Public Lecture which took place on March 1, 2024.

Unfortunately, there was not enough time to engage in the level of discourse that we had hoped but it was a start at informing people of the issues and the reasoning behind the various viewpoints. It was announced in the news earlier in the day that, as soon as Henry left Haiti, armed gangs took over the airport and told him he can’t come back, which is not quite true. They did attack the airport but were unsuccessful in taking control, and indeed, he left Kenya, presumably heading home.

The Prime Minister says they need international cooperation to restore peace in Haiti. “We need physical peace for our economic development,” he said. He explained that he accepted the invitation to speak at USIU after learning that the school’s students come from all over the world, making it an appropriate venue for his message of peace to the entire world.

“We tried many type of solutions, and, in October 2022, we requested the entire world to help us,” he added. Haiti made an international appeal during the United Nations General Assembly. Kenya’s leadership heard the call and responded. “Following his speech, President Ruto raised his hand and said that Kenya would stand with Haiti,” said Dr. Abraham Korir Sing’oei, Principal Secretary for Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs.

President William Ruto, of the Republic of Kenya, volunteered to spearhead a humanitarian mission in support of the people of Haiti. On Monday, October 2, 2023, the United Nations Security Council approved Resolution 2699 which enabled the deployment of international forces led by Kenya to support Haiti’s national police in curbing escalating gang violence and restore security in the country. Jamaica, Barbados, Benin, Chad, The Bahamas and Bangladesh are part of the mission and I’m sure several others will join by the time of deployment.

Despite the fact that President Ruto initiated the idea and volunteered Kenya, and that it is an African initiative, the perception in many circles and rumblings on social media and on the ground in Haiti give the impression that the mission is a western-driven effort, orchestrated by the so-called Core Group — consisting of the United Nations, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Spain, the European Union, the United States and the Organization of American States. I’ve even seen ridiculous “news” reports that Kenya is “invading Haiti.” You may recall the recently, the Transitional Government in Somalia invited Ethiopian troops to support as part of the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia. But because of misinformation and poor communication, when the Ethiopian troops arrived, many Somalis thought that Ethiopia was invading Somalia and battles began, killing Ethiopian troops. The message that Ethiopia was coming to help didn’t get through.

“We tried many type of solutions, and, in October 2022, we requested the entire world to help us.”

In order to counter this narrative and misinformation, to avoid a similar misconception and its consequences, to increase global awareness of Haiti’s plight and to galvanize the world’s empathy, I and my colleague, Edward Githaiga Muito, formed the unity initiative Africa4Haiti as a cultural diplomacy effort. It is a series of cultural activities, interventions and public awareness movements globally.

Florida is the U.S. state with the most Haitians and New York is the city with the largest Haitian population. I proposed a one-day rally held simultaneously in New York and Miami streamed live globally, organized by Haitian diaspora citizens located in those places, with logistical support provided by deployment countries. We also will conduct a series of symposiums, lectures and workshops over the next year on Haiti, Freedom, Democracy & Human Rights at various universities in the Caribbean, the United States, Africa and South America. Africa4Haiti is an African response to the call of the Haitian people.

#Africa4Haiti #DontForgetHaiti

— H.E. Prime Minister Ariel Henry, Republic of Haiti

PS Ministry of Foreign & Diaspora Affairs, Dr. Abraham Sing’oie, presents a gift from the people of Kenya to H.E. Prime Minister Ariel Henry, Prime Minister of the Republic of Haiti


David Koning

Is Only Just Beginning

“This is a story that needs to be told,” is what David

Koning reiterated throughout his interview with Hollywood Weekly.

David Koning founded Children Changing Lives back in 2007. Now at 36, the sports enthusiast with the rare condition of Hypoplastic Left Heart syndrome carries bigger ambitions for his organization. For a

person with half a heart, David’s mindset is whole-hearted.

Forced to undergo three heart surgeries at the age of three, David Koning is a man who wakes up every morning grateful that his heart is pumping efficiently. His third heart surgery took a turn for the worse when David experienced cardiac arrest and was pronounced dead for six minutes. Fortunately, excellent medical care and

a miracle restored David’s heart rhythm. While the event led to David having brain damage, seizures, and cerebral palsy, David is still completing his education, working towards a degree in psychology, learning to live with his seizures, and even playing the sport he loves, basketball.

When a journalist asked David Koning if his condition affects his day-to-day life, he casually mentioned, “Not really, I just take


a baby aspirin, and that’s it,” which is quite shocking considering the circumstances. He participated in a Special Olympics Basketball team as a point guard, averaging 4 to 5 assists and double-digit points. When asked what kind of point guard he considers himself, a natural shooting threepointer, point guard defender, or offense commander, he claimed “all of the above,” he can do everything on the court, even rim protection if he has to. In the last game of the season, David scored 25 points. He enjoys the competitiveness of basketball with his teammates, such as his shooting guard Josh, who does not let autism affect his three-point game, and Andrew, who does not let down syndrome affect how he controls the paint.

Since David Koning’s last interview was before COVID-19, the question of how COVID-19 affected the organization came into play. Children Changing Lives is currently on break because of the pandemic; it’s also preventing the partnership with another organization, whom David mentioned he is great friends with. Chris and David Koning are plotting the organization’s next series of events and collaborations. However, they plan to emerge more robust than ever in about 1 to 3 years once the pandemic settles. David also opened up about having COVID-19, and while the virus can be deadly for people with heart conditions, David brushed off COVID-19 like any other common cold, “No, it didn’t; I mean, I had some kind of symptoms but not bad at all, it was very mild,” showing the world that he has a strong heart.


David Koning’s family members and friends have learned to live with his heart condition; when interviewing some of his family members, they mentioned how David is someone with a soft heart. When

“While others may think that David’s disability is holding him back, he accepts the challenges that come with it and uses it as an amplifier for his personality.”

interviewing Matthew, a cousin of David living in the bayside, Matthew said how much of a support David was when his father passed away in 2022: “He definitely has a softer spot than some people see.”

Others know David with a certain resilience. Cousin Brandon had a lot to say about David, “It’s almost like he knew he had

a disability, and he never felt like ‘I just want to be like everyone else.’ he almost was ok being different.” Brandon also mentioned David’s sense of humor and poised charisma, “he’s always trying to make people laugh, and he’s very social.” While others may think that David’s disability is holding him back, he accepts the challenges


that come with it and uses it as an amplifier for his personality.

In an interview with David’s aunt, known as Sandy, she mentioned that since David really couldn’t play sports in his youth, he tries to get others to enjoy the games he loves, “He has been an instrument to help other disabled children or young adults to come to different sporting events, and he would contact different non-profits to get that arranged.”

This arrangement of taking disabled individuals to games is one of the main ways Children Changing Lives wants to get publicity in the future. When speaking to Max True Blood, a person who attempted to get the Los Angeles Clippers to move to Orange County or Anaheim in 2014, Max would take out David Koning to various sporting events. They would watch Duck games, Angel games, Clipper games, and even a Laker game with Kobe dribbling the ball against the Golden State Warriors.

While Max, at the moment, does not currently contribute his genius to Children Changing Lives, he is more than willing to do so. One idea Max had in mind was not just to take David to sporting events, but an entire group of disabled individuals, “if they have authorization, we can take them to places, have them experience things they wouldn’t otherwise experience.”

Children Changing Lives also gets much publicity from appearing on network television shows. David had the chance to meet Charles Barkley and Dr. Shaquille Rashaun O’Neal, members of the NBA HalfTime Show. David also answered questions for Steve Harvey on Family Feud, where the whole family participated. The Los Angeles Lakers even featured David in a documentary about his annual heart check-up at UCLA, which we encourage readers to check out. There is a sense of shock to learn that only David Koning and one other woman are the only people on the West Coast who made it past their thirties with their heart condition.

David uses basketball to connect with the people around him, people like Patricia Bondurant. If her name sounds familiar, it is because she was married to Bob Bondurant, the famous Ferrari formula driver. During an interview with Patricia, she mentioned how much of an inspiration and blessing David Koning has been to her. Before Patricia met David, she said how people with disabilities would shut her down, and she wasn’t sure why she would react in this manner. “I’ve

always felt like I was one of these people where I didn’t judge anyone, but I would shut down with people with disabilities until I met David.”

Patricia emphasized how important this experience was with David because, in her life, she witnessed certain people carrying presuppositions about people with disabilities. When David invited Patricia to his backyard to shoot three-pointers, she noticed David swishing three-pointers and was amazed, “I was so completely caught off guard!” She would learn that his disability did not stop David from doing what he wanted. Later that day, Patricia conversed with David and realized just how much of a personality he is, “what a charismatic person.” Stories like Patricia’s are necessary to share with the world because it can only take one person and one event to change a person’s perception. This story also shows that David’s enthusiasm for sports is necessary because when people witness David command the offense or shoot threepointers, despite his disabilities, he shatters people’s view on how to perceive people with disabilities.

Patricia Bondurant has gone on to be on the board of Treasure House, an organization founded by Brenda and Kurt Warner that helps people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Perhaps Children Changing Lives and Treasure House can partner up and work together on a groundbreaking project in the future.


David’s previous work with Children Changing Lives includes working with Blaze Pizza, The Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and the Los Angeles Clippers. If one knows David’s history, one can observe why David wanted to work with a pizza organization. When interviewing Debbie, a neighbor of David, she mentioned how David and her husband Jim would connect through pizza. “they would go down on the weekends... and David knew everyone at Zee’s Pizza, and David would always get the pizza for free because they love him... everyone loves him.” It makes sense why David would want to help serve pizza to the community.

His last interview occurred four years ago, and much has happened since then. New organizations aim to partner with Children Changing Lives to spread the story of David Koning. He mentioned working with the American Heart Association and the

Cancer Research Foundation in this recent interview. Most new partners with Children Changing Lives are medical facilities and non-profit organizations. Hopefully, David Koning’s story will be featured on ESPN, a milestone for the organization. Patricia Bondurant suggested that David Koning should start a sports talk show where David can give his analyses on specific sports topics of the day and contribute to the never-ending conversation about who the G.O.A.T. is, Lebron James or Michael Jordan. This would be a great idea to promote the non-profit organization; many people in David Koning’s circle mention how much of a genius he can be when it comes to breaking down plays or understanding match-ups.

Another milestone for David Koning and Children Changing Lives is for David’s life story to be shown on the silver screen. In this recent interview, David mentioned that while he doesn’t have a clear vision of how the first scene of the film will look like, he knows that being a survivor of Hypoplastic

“David uses basketball to connect with the people around him, people like Patricia Bondurant.”

Left Heart Syndrome is a miracle story that can inspire the nation, change people’s perceptions of how to view people with disabilities and to view every day as a miracle. Not only is David concerned about how the public perceives people with disabilities and playing basketball, but also with the rate of suicide in America, according to Paticia Bondorant. Every year, the suicide rate in America is increasing, and David understands that mental illness can disable a person. As Changing Children’s Lives grows to new heights, their slogan, “You only have one life; don’t waste it.” will resonate with many others.

One of David’s primary goals in life was to be able to work with Kobe Bryant in a potential partnership. Since Kobe uplifted Los Angeles to its feet, David gravitated towards his energy, but since the great Kobe Bryant is no longer with us, he can no longer fulfill this goal.

David still carries ambitions of working with The Los Angeles Lakers in the future; in his interview, David showed his vision of joining the Lakers’ staff in any way, shape,

or form as long as his position helped those with heart conditions and disabilities. Perhaps if Lebron James knew that David considered him the greatest of all time, Lebron might just give David a letter of recommendation. In truth, Lebron might consider David’s story significant because of the recent events Bronny James went through in the current year. As any Laker fan knows, Lebron James has dedicated the 2023-2024 season to his son after Bronny experienced cardiac arrest and had to undergo surgery. Bronny James and David Koning are not letting their heart conditions stop them from playing the game they have dedicated their lives to. A job with the USC staff wouldn’t hurt either.

David’s story of living with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome is an essential story to share with anyone who lives with a heart condition. The family and friends who have surrounded David his entire life have changed them to become better understanding human beings. While his heart condition may sound like a lot to handle, David is finding time to play basketball, dissect his favorite sports, and build a non-profit organization from the ground up. David Koning and his father, Chris Koning, have the potential to start many different endeavors with Children Changing Lives, whether that includes partnering with Max and taking disabled children to their favorite sporting events or partnering with Kurt Warner’s non-profit organization or partnering with Lebron and Bronny James, or completing his children’s book. David also understands that mental illnesses can affect the heart, adding mental illness awareness to the Children Changing Lives agenda. Many people with heart conditions might experience a sense of doom because the heart is arguably the most crucial organ in the human body, and these people might think it all goes down from there. Still, David and Chris Koning would disagree and tell the world that it’s only the beginning. As Children Changing Lives says, “You only have one life; don’t waste it.”


Email: dkoning501@aol.com.

Phone: (949) 923-1423

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