By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act December 22, 2011 at 6:17PM
Yes, I'm late on this, but I never bothered to watch the series; and I was only just reminded of it because of an ad that kept popping up on almost every Facebook page I clicked on today; so I thought, hmm, maybe the ad is trying to tell me something, so I clicked on it and remembered... oh yeah, there's a reason why I wanted to check out this series... because there are black people in its starring cast!
So I have to ask, how many of you watch Spartacus on the Starz network?
Like I said, I've never watched an episode, but it was on my list... my list that just kept growing and growing... and growing.
Correct me if I'm wrong fans/followers of the series... there have been 2 seasons, correct? The first titled Spartacus: Blood And Sand, and the second, a prequel, titled Spartacus: Gods Of The Arena; or is the prequel considered a seperate show entirely? I ask that because what Starz is billing as season 2 of the series is Spartacus: Vengeance, which is set to debut on the network towards the end of January 2012.
One of those black people in the series' starring cast is Peter Mensah, who's been a constant throughout, appearing in Blood And Sand, as well as Gods Of The Arena, and will also appear in Vengeance next year.
He plays a character named Oenomaus, once known as Doctore, born a slave, rebelled, became a prominent gladiator and eventually a trainer of gladiators, including the title character, Spartacus; in the upcoming new season, as his character profile on the series' Starz webpage says, he'll no longer be a trainer but "a man now searching for his place in the world. Bereft of a wife and an occupation, he finds himself caught in the middle between his former loyalties to the Roman way of things and the rebellion against that way by the men he used to command. Oenomaus is a man with nothing left to lose; whose ferocious talent for fighting and teaching could potentially be a powerful gain for Spartacus’ cause."
Mensah, a Ghanaian-born Brit has actually been active since about 1995, appearing in both TV and film; although, from a scan of his IMDB page, I'd say his role in the Spartacus series just may be his meatiest and highest profile yet. Although I haven't seen all of his work.
The other black person in the series starring cast is a newcomer - Cynthia Addai-Robinson. She joins the series with Vengeance next month, playing a character named Naevia, described as "the former body slave to Lucretia who was banished from the ludus for engaging in a love affair with Crixus. She represents all that Crixus still lives for, driving him to fight alongside Spartacus in mutiny against Rome in the hopes of one day finding her. Crixus longs to see her still alive, to rescue her from exile and be reunited in love and freedom."
The character was originally played by South African actress Lesley-Ann Brandt in both the Blood and Sand & Gods of the Arena seasons of the show; but she was replaced by Addai-Robinson for the next season, for reasons I couldn't immediately determine. Though the fact that, according to her IMDB page, she stars in 3 upcoming indie feature-length films may have something to do with it. My guess is she moved on to focus on feature films, and maybe got some offers she couldn't refuse; also there apparently were some delays in production of Vengeance which may have interfered with her film production schedule.
Anyway, I have a feeling we'll be talking about her in 2012, because I see she's listed as star of at least one film by an indie black filmmaker I know :)
But Cynthia Addai-Robinson, a Ghanaian American, now has her chance to shine. Past credits for the theater graduate from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University include roles in Tina Mabry's acclaimed feature debut, Mississippi Damned, as well as in Colombiana, with Zoe Saldana (though I'm scratching my head trying to remember exactly wheee she appeared in that movie).
For those unfamiliar with the series, both Blood And Sand and Gods Of The Arena are on DVD, and VOD, so you've got some options there.
And for a sample of what to expect, here are 2 video clips, both featuring Peter Mensah; the first a profile of his character; the second a fight scene from the show between him and Spartacus.