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23 | THE VOICE JUNE 28 - JULY 4, 2012


Beyoncé gets censored


Lupita gets Oscar nod

Aml Ameen

The American dream

24 ! THE VOICE JANUARY 23 - 29, 2014



British actor Aml Ameen talks to YV’s Dionne Grant about breaking into Hollywood, missing home and working alongside Oprah


URING AN interview in 2006, I asked Aml Ameen where he saw himself in five years. He paused before replying: “I want to be in Hollywood, I want to be doing movies on the biggest stage in the world.â€? So imagine my glee when, true to his word, I watched as the British-born actor lit up the screen with an all-star cast, including Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey and Mariah Carey, for Hollywood blockbuster The Butler. Playing the character of the young Cecil Gaines (who is later played by Whitaker), Ameen was projected into cinemas around the world and played his part in helping the movie gross over $167m (ÂŁ101m) worldwide against a budget of $30m (ÂŁ18m). “I've done TV shows in the

UK and small roles here and there, but The Butler was my real arrival into American cinema,� Ameen says. “You get loads of scripts all the time and some are ok, but this is one of them where you read it and you're like, 'I need to be in this film.' I didn't know the names attached to it at the time, but I knew I wanted to be a part of it.� But all was not as clear cut. Although Ameen successfully auditioned for the coveted role, he says the film's director Lee Daniels had some reservations about his look. “Lee Daniels, who I met after auditioning, complimented my acting skills but said I didn't get the job because I didn't look like Forest Whitaker,� he says. “I was literally coming home to start a job in London and got the call for it. He said he had looked around and said even though I didn't look like Forest, I

had captured something.� The Butler follows the life of White House butler Cecil Gaines (Whitaker), who escapes his childhood working on the cotton fields on a plantation in Georgia, to learn the art of serving - before landing himself a job as a butler in America's most famous residence. Inspired by the story of real life White House butler Eugene Allen,who served under eight presidents between the 1950s and 1980s, The Butler explores race relations in America, and the birth of the civil rights movement, touching upon the lynchings, beatings and segregation faced by black people in 1920s America and beyond. “It's an epic civil rights movie,� Ameen says. “It's a film that's going to last 100 years, I'm really happy about it. For me, it was one of my personal best efforts as an actor.�

Crediting Daniels and Whitaker, for putting him in the position to provide some “really truthful acting�, Ameen says “between [Forest] and Lee Daniels, I became a much stronger actor.� He added: “Lee Daniels is such an intense and brilliant director, he knows exactly what he wants. He just wants the truth from you, so cuts back all the nonsense you may bring and puts you in a position where you do some really truthful acting.� Rising to fame as street savvy police officer Lewis Hardy on long-running ITV 1 series The Bill in 2006, he later went on to land the “career-defining� role of Trife in cult classic Kidulthood before upping sticks and moving to the States. Once there, he landed the role of Malcolm Davies in popular US series Harry's Law alongside actress Kathy Bates and will appear in film The Maze Runner this September. “I remember watching Hook as a child and The Maze Runner has that feel to it,� Ameen notes. In the sci-fi fantasy based on books of the same name by author James Dashner, Ameen plays the character of Alby. Alby is one of four boys deposited in a community after his memory is erased, soon learning they're all trapped in a maze that will require him to join forces with fellow "runners" for a shot at escape.

“It's a very fascinating movie, I'm looking forward to it,� he says excitedly. “It's going to sound weird, but I really enjoy watching myself on screen within the context of a film. I'm probably more nervous watching myself do an interview if I'm honest. [With acting] I've usually done so much work creating this person, I quite enjoy looking back and seeing my work. As a director myself, I also like seeing how the director has shaped the performance. I love getting lost in the world of film.� As he gears up to begin filming alongside actresses Viola Davis (The Help) and Jennifer Lopez - and with his CV growing by the minute - would he advise fellow Brits to make that jump Stateside? “It's a complicated time for black British actors,� he muses.“I think you're going to


The 12 Years A Slave star has been nominated for a ‘‘Best Supporting Actress’’ Oscar

find more and more people becoming international artists and that should be the goal for everybody, to travel worldwide. There's a real abandonment of the British film and TV industry for black artists. I think it would be useful for the gatekeepers to reach out to people who have a lot of great ideas, it could really present a commercial renaissance of black British people in TV and film.� In keeping with tradition, my last question is inevitably what the next five years will hold for this Hollywood star. He laughs before replying, “Ok, so I would be 33. I think in the next five years I will be where a lot of people are pushing and hoping for me to be.� The Maze Runner will be released in September. For more information, visit: or follow @AmlAmeen on Twitter


The UK duo was pictured leaving the New York office of P Diddy after an interview with the mogul’’s Revolt TV


Dear Kat,

My ex-boyfriend and I have been friends for years, but he recently got a new girlfriend and all of a sudden things have changed. We continued a physical relationship when we broke up. I still had feelings for him, but his were stronger and everyone knew it. He never wanted to break up and always wanted us to get back together, but I just wasn't ready to settle down yet and didn't want to hurt him. I thought he'd always be there, but it looks like he's giving this new relationship a go. I asked him if we could meet, like we always do, and discuss things, but he said that it wouldn't be a good idea. He will reply to my texts, but not my calls. Why is he avoiding me? He has NEVER done this before. I'm hurt and angry because we've always been able to talk about everything. What can I do? Anon


Hi Anon,

You can't do a thing! It was a wrap the moment you broke up with him. You were both basically filling a void and now he has decided to move on, you must give them your blessing. By continuously texting, you’re just going to make them stronger and ensure he ends up resenting you. He wanted you and you didn’t want him – you were stringing him along. You only wanted him when it suited you. Let go. You’re not together any more. That’s real talk. He has told you he has moved on, and is going to give it a try with this new woman. That's your cue to say thank you and move on. Cry and mourn the loss, you must allow yourself time to do that. If it’s meant to be, it will be, if not, you will find someone else who is worthy of your love and attention – as he has done. In this time, just hold onto the best parts of you two, write them down in a letter post them to him say sorry where you need to and thank you at the end leaving it on a good note. Like I said, if he is truly yours he will come back.


The singer’’s new single Drunk In Love was censored by a London radio station for ‘‘promoting violence against women’’



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PAULA PATT ON: The ruffles, oh the ruffles!



Show stopping G’O: . Wow!



JANUARY 23 - 29, 2014 THE VOICE ! 25

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British actor Aml Ameen talks to Young Voice's Dionne Grant about breaking into Hollywood, missing home and working alongside Oprah.