News for 4/18/2005

Jasmine Guy To Play Wife in Harlem-Set Fourposter in Delaware

By Kenneth Jones

Jasmine Guy will be Agnes in the fresh Wilmington, DE, staging of The Fourposter that will drop the show into the world of the Harlem Renaissance without changing a line of Jan de Hartog's script.

Keith Powell, artistic director of the Barrymore Award-winning Contemporary Stage Company, will direct the 2005 summer production in what is the troupe's second season. This year, CSC graduates from Equity guest artist contract to SPT status. As previously reported, Keith David will play Michael, the writer husband of Agnes, in the warm two-actor play about a loving and bumpy marriage circa 1890-1925.

Guy appeared in the musical revival of Chicago and is known for her work on the TV sitcom "A Different World." On the stage, Keith David is best known for his Tony-nominated turn opposite Gregory Hines in Jelly's Last Jam. He also starred on Broadway as the lead in August Wilson's Seven Guitars, and Off-Broadway as the title role in Othello at the New York Shakespeare Festival. (Read More...)

News for 12/21/2004

Showtime Euthanizes 'Dead Like Me'

LOS ANGELES (Zap2it.com) The quirky afterlife dramedy "Dead Like Me" is now dead like lots of other shows.

Showtime has opted not to order a third season of the series, which followed a young woman named George (Ellen Muth) who, after her untimely death, becomes a "reaper" -- someone who collects souls and sends them on their way to the afterlife.

The cancellation of "Dead Like Me" will likely make room for one of several drama pilots the pay-cable network is developing, the showbiz trade papers report. Among them are "The Cell," about an FBI attempt to infiltrate a terrorist cell; "Hate," about a police hate-crime unit; and an untitled show about two brothers, one a criminal, the other a politician.

All of those projects, plus a series spun from the "Barbershop" movies and a comedy based on the life of Richard Pryor, have been developed under Showtime Entertainment president Robert Greenblatt, who's held the job for a year and a half. He's also greenlit the comedies "Weeds" and "Fat Actress" for later this year and given a second season to the drama "Huff."

"Dead Like Me" received largely positive reviews when it debuted in summer 2003 and picked up decent ratings as well. However, the show, which also stars Mandy Patinkin, Jasmine Guy and Laura Harris as George's fellow reapers, didn't sustain that buzz into its second season.

The last episode ended on an ambiguous note, as George's younger sister appeared to recognize her -- something the living aren't supposed to be able to do.

News for 7/21/2004

Actress Jasmine Guy is in a very different world

From Whitley Gilbert to grim reaper

Jasmine Guy plays the tough-talking Roxy in the new Showtime series "Dead Like Me," Showtime's dark-humored show which explores the fine line between life and death.

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Jasmine Guy is perhaps best known as glamorous, snooty Whitley Gilbert on the old NBC sitcom “A Different World.” Now, more than a decade later, she’s in a very different world as the tough-talking Roxy, one of the grim reapers on Showtime’s “Dead Like Me.”

The dramedy, which begins its second season 10 p.m. ET Sunday, stars Ellen Muth as a teenager who was killed by a toilet seat falling from the disintegrating MIR space station.

She’s part of a group of reapers, which besides Roxy, includes a philosophical taskmaster (Mandy Patinkin), an ex-druggie (Callum Blue) and a Hollywood starlet (Laura Harris).

Their assignment: to reap the souls of those whose deaths — by accident, suicide or murder — are presaged by weird, spooky creatures called gravelings. The saved souls can then move on to whatever it is that lies ahead.

But until they’ve filled a quota of saves, the reapers must remain in a strange limbo, where they have a visible presence among the living and hold jobs but are unrecognized by anyone they knew in life.

When Guy started playing Roxy, she didn’t know the character had been a dancer, let alone one who’d been strangled in 1982 by one of her own leg-warmers.

It wasn’t revealed until midway through last season that she was murdered by her greedy roommate, who spotted the financial potential in leg-warmers, which Roxy had just invented.

Learning the details of Roxy’s death helped Guy understand more fully the character’s anger and desire to be in control, but she was initially resistant to her being a dancer.

“I’d just never seen her as a dancer,” says Guy, who was a member of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and in recent years toured as the murderess vamp Velma Kelly in the musical “Chicago.”

Guy was miffed because she thought: “That’s my life. Why are they pulling from my life?”

But she noticed everyone who read the script for the episode “started laughing,” and she realized, “It’s not the first time I’ve read a script and thought ‘This isn’t going to work’ and been wrong!”

Lovely Roxy, meter maid

The role of Roxy, who’s been working as a meter maid, appealed to Guy because she was “different from anything I had played. She was hard. She was asexual. She didn’t have much to say, but when she spoke it was potent, and I loved that.”

Executive producer Stephen Godchaux says revealing how Roxy died helps explain her “very rigid moral code” and “great indignation with those who don’t measure up.”

So this season, Roxy joins the police force.

“I love my new cop uniform. It’s navy blue. It’s sharp. I wear comfortable shoes, but I look cool!” Guy exclaims.

Born in Boston, Guy, 40, grew up in Atlanta, where her father is a Baptist minister.

“I really wanted to be Ruby Dee ... I loved Ruby Dee in ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’ I hadn’t seen anybody else (on-screen) that like me. I had heard about Dorothy Dandridge, but when I was a little kid I hadn’t seen her work.”

Guy was taken by her parents when she was about 10 to see the Alvin Ailey company perform. She then became “single-minded” in her determination to be a dancer.

Guy met her husband, businessman Terrence Duckette, when touring with “Chicago” in Chicago. They now live in Los Angeles with 5-year-old daughter Imani.

“She came out and my ambition flew right out the window,” says Guy, who initially thought she wouldn’t work again and “just stay home and take care of the boo-boo.”

Although she has gone back to work, Guy says, “I don’t think it’s my whole life.”

Earlier this year, Guy had her first book published, “Afeni Shakur: Evolution of a Revolutionary.” It’s a record of the conversations she had over many years with her friend, the mother of slain rapper-actor Tupac Shakur. It explores Afeni Shakur’s journey from being a Black Panther, through periods of drugs and despair, to recovery and pride in the legacy of her late son.

Guy says it’s important to be able to express “your true voice,” something not always possible in acting.

News for 11/5/2003

The following article appeared in the October 2003 issue of Essence Magazine

The following article appeared in the August 2003 issue of Savoy Magazine

News for 10/27/2003

Jasmine Guy Leaves Cast of 'Violet Hour'

AP Drama Writer

NEW YORK - Jasmine Guy has withdrawn from the cast of "The Violet Hour" less than two weeks before its Broadway opening, leaving the production during intermission of Thursday night's preview performance.

The 39-year-old actress, who starred in the '80s TV series "A Different World," has left the production for "medical reasons," Jim Byk, a spokesman for the show, said Friday. Byk didn't elaborate.

Guy was replaced for the second act at the Biltmore Theatre by her understudy, Robin Miles, who will assume the role of Jessie Brewster in Richard Greenberg's new play. It opens Nov. 6.

"Unfortunately and to my deepest regret, I need to leave the production at this time," Guy said in a statement. "I leave a piece of my heart on the stage of the Biltmore."

"We understand Jasmine's need to leave the production and wish her all the best," said Lynne Meadow, artistic director of Manhattan Theatre Club, which will operate the Biltmore as its new Broadway home in addition to its two off-Broadway spaces.

"The Violet Hour" is MTC's inaugural attraction at the Biltmore, a venerable Broadway playhouse that has undergone extensive restoration and renovation, costing upward of $25 million.

The five-character "Violet Hour" has been plagued by other cast changes. Laura Benanti left last month because of "artistic differences," and was replaced by Dagmara Dominczyk.

The play, which also stars Robert Sean Leonard, Scott Foley and Mario Cantone, concerns an ambitious young publisher at the start of his career in 1919. Greenberg won the best-play Tony Award last June for "Take Me Out," the story of a gay baseball superstar who comes out of the closet.