2011 Venice Film Fest Closing Night Film "Damsels In Distress" Co-Stars 3 Black Actors

by Tambay A. Obenson
July 29, 2011 6:40 AM
3 Comments
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The closing night film of this year's Venice Film Festival, which runs from the end of August through September 10th, is a comedy/drama titled Damsels In Distress, directed by Oscar-nominated actor/writer/director Whit Stillman - his first film in 13 years.

The film tells the story of a trio of beautiful girls Violet Wister (Gerta Gerwig), Rose (Megalyn Echikunwoke) and Heather (Carrie MacLemore), who set out to "revolutionize life at a grungy American university. They welcome transfer student Lily (Analeigh Tipton) into their group which seeks to help severely depressed students with a program of good hygiene and musical dance numbers. The girls become romantically entangled with a series of men who threaten the girls’ friendship and sanity."

The name of that immediately stood out to me was Megalyn Echikunwoke, the last name being Nigerian. Never heard of her, so, naturally, I looked her up.

The 27 year old Washington DC native's highest profile job would likely be her recurring role during the 2008/2009 season of CSI: Miami, in which she appeared for 23 episodes, and the first season of 24. She has also played roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, That 70s Show, sci-fi series The 4400, and much more.

Needless to say, she's been busy, but mostly in TV.

Her role in Damsels In Distress will be her first big screen lead performance, since she's in the core starring cast. Being in the closing night film of one of the most prestigious festivals in the world is certainly a good look as well.

I should note that she's not the only actor of African descent in the film; supporting roles are played by Jermaine Crawford (who you'll remember from The Wire; here he plays a character named Jimbo), and Aja Naomi King (she's a relative newcomer who'll play Wendell Pierce's daughter in the upcoming indie drama Four, which I wrote about earlier today. In this film she'll play a character named Positive Polly).

How about those character names, huh? Violet Wister, Jimbo, Positive Polly... there are also characters named Thor, Mad Madge and Freak Astaire.

Sony Pictures Classics already has worldwide rights to the film, but no release dates yet.

No trailer yet either.

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More: Film Festival, casting

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3 Comments

  • Curtis | August 1, 2011 3:44 AMReply

    Megalyn's a very good actress (not yet great) who's first standout role was in my fave tv movie of all time, FUNNY VALENTINES, with Alfre Woodard and Loretta Divine (this was one of Divine's best roles too). She was a teen then but stood out with talent. CSI was a wash for her as Misha has explained, but in The 4400 (about people abducted and brought into the future with powers) she had got a lot of focus, although she did play a race-mixed child of alien abductees that grew almost overnight into a full grown woman and whose power was to bring down the destruction of her own people. Humph. Her father was played by Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, whose been featured on S&A numerous times.

  • Jennifer | July 30, 2011 12:57 PMReply

    Good grief. Does the thing that breaks up the friendship HAVE to be the men they are dating? How many times have we seen that plot twist? *yawn*

  • misha | July 29, 2011 7:50 AMReply

    I am a fan of Megalyn. She's a beautiful and talented actress. Unfortunate that she didn't have a longer stay on CSI: Miami but her stint on there was doomed to fail. Clearly, she was meant to be Khandi Alexander's "replacement" but was too young for the role, I thought. Though she did a good job in spite of that and had chemistry with her co-stars. If only the writers/producers had been a little more creative...

    Anyhow, can't say this new film piques my interest but I'm happy to hear that she's working.

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