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Kasi Lemmons

Kasi Lemmons

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Also Known As: Karen Lemmons Died:
Born: February 24, 1961 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Boston, Massachusetts, USA Profession: screenwriter, actor, director, editor, director of photography, dancer, sound editor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An attractive African-American player of stage, screen and TV who often projects an appealing vulnerability and intelligence, Kasi Lemmons began her professional career playing a hostage in the TV-movie "11th Victim" (1979), directed by Jonathan Kaplan. She then took several years off to study with The Lee Strasberg Institute, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Centre, NYU, UCLA and famed mime Marcel Marceau. She returned to acting with a supporting role in Lanford Wilson's "Balm in Gilead" (1984) Off-Broadway, and a guest spot on the detective series "Spenser: For Hire" (1985). After attending film school at the New School for Social Research in NYC, Lemmons made her entrance into features by writing, directing, shooting and editing the documentary short "Fall From Grace" (1987). The next year, she appeared in two drastically different films: "School Daze," Spike Lee's musical study of black-on-black prejudices; and "Vampire's Kiss," a dark comedy starring Nicolas Cage as a man who may be a vampire.Lemmons continued to appear in high-profile Hollywood films including Jonathan Demme's "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991), as Jodie Foster's FBI cadet friend; "Candyman" (1992), as Virginia Madsen's research...

An attractive African-American player of stage, screen and TV who often projects an appealing vulnerability and intelligence, Kasi Lemmons began her professional career playing a hostage in the TV-movie "11th Victim" (1979), directed by Jonathan Kaplan. She then took several years off to study with The Lee Strasberg Institute, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Centre, NYU, UCLA and famed mime Marcel Marceau. She returned to acting with a supporting role in Lanford Wilson's "Balm in Gilead" (1984) Off-Broadway, and a guest spot on the detective series "Spenser: For Hire" (1985). After attending film school at the New School for Social Research in NYC, Lemmons made her entrance into features by writing, directing, shooting and editing the documentary short "Fall From Grace" (1987). The next year, she appeared in two drastically different films: "School Daze," Spike Lee's musical study of black-on-black prejudices; and "Vampire's Kiss," a dark comedy starring Nicolas Cage as a man who may be a vampire.

Lemmons continued to appear in high-profile Hollywood films including Jonathan Demme's "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991), as Jodie Foster's FBI cadet friend; "Candyman" (1992), as Virginia Madsen's research partner; and John Woo's "Hard Target" (1993), as a cop with a heart of gold. She received her first leading role in the mock 'rapumentary' "Fear of a Black Hat" (1994), playing sociologist Nina Blackburn, who chronicles a year in the life of controversial rap group NWH (Niggaz With Hats). Lemmons has continued to work on stage and in TV, starring in an L.A. production of "Romeo and Juliet" and in the HBO original movie "Afterburn" (1992).

1997 marked a turning point for Lemmons. Having always wanted to be a writer, she had spent several years nurturing a script about a young girl's coming of age in the South. When it came time to film "Eve's Bayou," Lemmons put herself in contention as director. She fashioned a 20-minute short, "Dr. Hugo," starring her husband actor-director Vondie Curtis Hall, as an audition piece and convinced the producers to allow her to direct her own script. The result, what Lemmons has called "an African American Southern Gothic," was a well-acted, critically praised mood piece that heralded a new and exciting voice in films.

For her second film as a director, Lemmons reunited with Samuel L Jackson on the mystery thriller "The Caveman's Valentine" (2001). Screened at Sundance, the movie was adapted from an award winning novel and recounted the story of how a homeless man (Jackson) becomes embroiled in solving the mysterious death of a young man. As a director, Lemmons exhibited a flair with actors and a keen visual sense that helped to somewhat overcome the screenplay's flaws.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
2.
  Talk to Me (2007)
3.
  Caveman's Valentine (2001) Director
4.
  Eve's Bayou (1997) Director
5.
  Fall From Grace (1987) Director
6.
  74th Annual Academy Awards, The (2002) Segment Director (Tribute To Sidney Poitier)
7.
  Dr. Hugo (1997) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Disconnect (2013)
2.
 Waist Deep (2006)
4.
 'Til There Was You (1997) Angenelle
5.
 Gridlock'd (1997) Madonna And Child
6.
 Zooman (1995) Grace
7.
 DROP Squad (1994) June Vanderpoor
8.
 Fear of a Black Hat (1993) Nina Blackburn
9.
 Hard Target (1993) Carmine Mitchell
10.
 Candyman (1992) Bernadette Walsh
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1994:
First film in a leading role, "Fear of a Black Hat"
1991:
Portrayed the roommate of Clarice Starling in "The Silence of the Lambs"
1985:
Returned to TV with a guest spot on "Spenser: For Hire"
1988:
Feature acting debut, "School Daze"
1997:
Feature directing debut, "Eve's Bayou"; also scripted; Samuel L Jackson had pivotal role
:
Appeared Off-Broadway in Lanford Wilson's "Balm in Gilead"
1991:
Cast as Alex Robbins, a regular character on the short-lived series, "Under Cover"
1990:
First TV-movie in a leading role, "The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson" (TNT)
2007:
Helmed "Talk To Me," starring Don Cheadle as Washington D.C. radio personality Ralph "Petey" Greene, an ex-con who became a popular talk show host and community activist
:
Raised in St Louis, Missouri
:
Received a story credit for an episode of "The Cosby Show" (NBC)
2001:
Second feature, "The Caveman's Valentine" starring Samuel L Jackson, screened at Sundance
1979:
Took several years off from acting to study
1979:
TV acting debut, "11th Victim", a TV-movie directed by Jonathan Kaplan
1987:
Wrote, directed, shot and edited the short documentary, "Fall From Grace"; shown at the IFP October 16
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

New York University: New York, New York -
University of California at Los Angeles: Los Angeles, California -
New School for Social Research: New York, New York -
The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute: New York, New York -
New York School of Ballet: New York, New York -
Circle in the Square Professional Theater School: New York, New York -
The Alvin Ailey School: New York, New York -

Notes

"We say we want something different from our cinema ... I'm not saying 'Eve's Bayou' is the answer, you know, because some people will like it and some people won't. But I think it is one of the answers. ... I wanted to create a piece that was visual and lyrical with characters speaking in the rhythms that I remember from my childhood ... " --Kasi Lemmons to Los Angeles Times, November 6, 1997.

"My dream is that I will either find material or create material that I feel as deeply about as I did 'Eve's Bayou.' I have a lot of stories to tell. It happened accidentally, but I am a writer now. ... " --Lemmons to Los Angeles Times, November 6, 1997.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Vondie Curtis Hall. Actor, director.

Family close complete family listing

sister:
Cheryl Lemmons. Psychiatrist. Served as a consultant on "The Caveman's Valentine".
son:
Henry Hunter Hall. Born in 1996.
daughter:
Zora Hall. Born c. 1999.

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