Tag: Hattiesburg

Oscar Winner Mo’Nique Returns To Screen In Independent Film “Blackbird”

Mo'Nique 2009 OscarsIn her first screen starring turn since the ferocious portrayal as an abusive mother in 2009′s Precious won her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar, Mo’Nique has joined Isaiah Washington in the Patrik-Ian Polk-directed Blackbird, an adaptation of the novel by Larry Duplechan. Washington took the lead in this indie last fall off his starring role as the DC sniper in Blue Caprice earned him a Gotham Award nomination. The film just shot in Hattiesburg, MS.

is__130909161142Mo’Nique is also executive producer with her husband, Sidney Hicks, through Hicks Media. Newcomer Julian Walker plays the star singer in the church choir who feels like a misfit in his high school and struggles with his sexual awakening and the realization he is gay, something that doesn’t land well in a religiously conservative small Mississippi town. This coincides with his younger sister going missing and his parents splitting up. Mo’Nique plays another character who’s not going to win mother of the year awards: the youth’s heartbroken mom, who blames her son’s lifestyle revelation for his sister going missing. Washington plays his supportive father trying his best to help his son’s transition to manhood.

Blackbird is a film about the choices people are forced to make as they struggle to figure out how to be themselves,” Hicks said. “And why should just being who you are be a struggle? Since Mo’Nique won the Oscar, we have received a flood of scripts, but nothing captured our attention until Isaiah — who we have a high level of respect for — sent us Blackbird. We became instant fans of Patrik-Ian Polk and knew we had to get behind this important film.”

Polk is producing through Tall Skinny Black Boy Productions, Keith Brown through Kbiz Entertainment, Washington through his Coalhouse Productions, and Carol Ann Shine. Terrell Tilford, Gary L. Gray, Kevin Allesee, Torrey Laamar, Nikki Jane and D. Woods round out the cast. Worldwide sales for the film are being handled by Hicks Media and attorney Ricky Anderson of Anderson & Smith.

article by Mike Fleming Jr. via Deadline.com

Rodney Bennett Becomes 1st African-American President of the University of Southern Mississippi

rodneybennettRodney Bennett has been selected as the next president of the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. He will be the first African-American president of any of the five predominantly White state universities in Mississippi.

Dr. Bennett has been serving as vice president for student affairs at the University of Georgia in Athens. He previously was dean of students and interim provost for institutional diversity at the University of Georgia. Earlier in his career, Dr. Bennett was dean of students at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

Ed Blakeslee, president of the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning in Mississippi, stated, “With a student-centered approach grounded in experience in all facets of the university, Dr. Bennett brings a tremendous depth of knowledge of higher education, its challenges and how to meet the challenges to help more students succeed in the classroom and beyond. I believe the Board of Trustees has made an excellent choice for the next leader of the University of Southern Mississippi.”

Dr. Bennett holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro. He earned a doctorate in educational administration at Tennessee State University in Nashville.

article via jbhe.com