Life of a King is the unlikely true story of Eugene Brown and his one-man mission to give inner-city kids of Washington D.C. something he never had – a future. He discovered a multitude of life lessons through the game of chess during his 18-year incarceration for bank robbery. After his release and reentry into the workforce, Eugene developed and founded the Big Chair Chess Club to get kids off the streets and working towards lives they never believed they were capable of due to circumstances. From his daring introductory chess lessons to a group of unruly high school students in detention to the development of the Club and the teens' first local chess competitions, this movie reveals his difficult, inspirational journey and how he changed the lives of a group of teens with no endgame.
Cuba Gooding Jr is best known for his Oscar winning portrayal of the charmingly arrogant pro football player Rod Tidwell in Cameron Crowe's Jerry Maguire. Gooding was born in the Bronx and moved to Los Angeles at the age of 4.
In 1991, he received critical acclaim his portrayal of Tré Styles in John Singleton's coming-of-age classic Boyz in the Hood, which earned him ShoWest's Newcomer Award. He followed this success with roles in numerous critically acclaimed major films, such as As Good as It Gets, What Dreams May Come, and the Oscar-nominated A Few Good Men.
In 1997, Gooding was honored with the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance in Jerry Maguire. In addition to the Academy Award, Gooding was presented with the Screen Actors Guild Award, the Broadcasters Film Critics Award, the Critics Choice Award and the Chicago Film Critics Award.
Gooding's versatility as an actor is exemplified by the diversity of the roles he has played. His repertoire has grown to include major roles in numerous critically acclaimed films including Men of Honor, Pearl Harbor, Radio, American Gangster, Shadowboxer and last year's George Lucas-helmed Red Tails.
He has also appeared in award-winning movies for television including "Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story" and last year's "Firelight " – the highest-rated Hallmark Hall of Fame movie ever.
Gooding will next be seen on the big screen in Robert Rodriquez's sequel to Machete, Machete Kills and Lee Daniels' highly anticipated film The Butler. He also stars in the upcoming independent films, Life of a King and Something Whispered.
This Spring, Gooding made his Broadway debut in the Tony-nominated smash hit revival The Trip to Bountiful alongside Cicely Tyson. Reviews have called his performance "triumphant", "moving" and "exquisitely right".
Gooding has also explored other aspects of filmmaking – in 1993 he co-produced and starred in the well-received thriller A Murder of Crows. His film company, Dudley Pictures, is currently involved in several projects in development for film and television.In 2002, Gooding received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame honoring his extraordinary achievements.
Malcolm Mays is a film actor, director, writer, and producer from South Central Los Angeles. At the age of 17, he directed and produced his first feature film, Trouble, aided by producer Todd Black, Gary Martin of Sony Pictures, Kodak Films, and the New Filmmaker Grant from Panavision. Trouble aimed to shed light on the African-American and Latin-American (Black vs. Brown) tension in South Central Los Angeles. The New York Times found his story to be so compelling that they printed a front page article about it titled, " Based on a true story," detailing the project and his struggle getting it made whilst still in high school. After his first short film, Open Door, was accepted into the Los Angeles International Short Film Festival at age 15, Cash Money Records artist, Glasses Malone, executive produced his short film titled The Division, which featured the rapper as a drug kingpin in Los Angeles. The Division, a Cash Money Records Film, was written and produced by Charles Penniman and Malcolm Mays.
Dennis Haysbert captured the attention of audiences and critics alike with his groundbreaking role as President David Palmer on FOX's hit series "24," for which he received his first Golden Globe nomination. He returned to television to star in the CBS series THE UNIT, which premiered with record-breaking ratings. Haysbert's current film projects include Indomina's indie drama LUV, Weinstein Co's dark comedy THE DETAILS and Disney's animated feature WRECK-IT-RALPH.
His film credits include Universal's BREACH and JARHEAD, New Line Cinema's LOVE AND BASKETBALL, Warner Bros., ABSOLUTE POWER, Orion Production's LOVE FIELD, Paramount's MAJOR LEAGUE Warner Bros., HEAT, Columbia Pictures' RANDOM HEARTS, Trimark Picture's WHAT'S COOKING, Fox's WAITING TO EXHALE, Columbia Pictures and Sony Production's THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR, Orion Picture's NAVY SEALS, Alfa Omega's SUTURE, and Dream Works' SINGBAD LEGEND OF THE SEVEN SEAS. Haysbert also appeared on the small screen in the critically acclaimed CBS production NOW AND AGAIN.
Born and raised in Cleveland, OH actress Paula Jai Parker moved to Washington, D.C., to study at Theatre at Howard University. After getting her B.F.A., she went on to become a regular on The Apollo Comedy Hour and Townsend Television.
Proving she could do comedy, she made a dramatic turn on the HBO anthology series "Cosmic Slop." She won a Cable ACE Award for her title role in the segment "Tang," based on the short novel by Chester Himes. Parker made her feature film debut as Ice Cube's girlfriend Joi in F. Gary Gray's hit comedy Friday. After meeting director Rusty Cundieff while doing Tales From the Hood, she was cast as gold-digging Adina in his urban comedy Sprung with Tisha Campbell.
She also worked with many of the Wayans brothers on the WB show "The "Wayans' Brothers," and the feature film Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. Her next few films included the romantic comedy Woo, starring Jada Pinkett Smith, and the period drama Why Do Fools Fall in Love, starring Halle Berry.
In 1999, she joined the cast of the David E. Kelley's "Snoops", an ABC detective drama starring Gina Gershon. When the show ended, she provided the voice of "Trudy Proud" on the animated series "The Proud Family" and starred in the ensemble comedy "30 Years to Life" with Tracy Morgan. Parker later appeared in Joel Schumacher's action thriller Phone Booth and Cheryl Dunye's domestic comedy My Baby's Daddy.
In 2005 she starred alongside Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson in the Oscar-winning film Hustle and Flow. Most recently she can be seen in Bill Duke's acclaimed film Cover and in the anthology series, "Fear Itself," from the producers of "Masters of Horror." Parker's longevity and varied career choices have certainly poised her to continue to grow as an entertainer in Hollywood and has carved out a place for her as one of today's hardest working actresses.
A graduate of the Juilliard School's drama division, Hamilton's extensive theatre credits include "Isabella" in "Measure For Measure" at the New York Shakespeare Theatre Festival opposite Kevin Kline and Andre Braugher. She also starred as Grace in the original Broadway company of August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson." Hamilton earned the Ovation nomination for best actress for her work as Veronica in Athol Fugard's play "Valley Strong" at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Mr. Fugard also directed this production. Additionally, she earned an Obie Award, the Clarence Derwent Award and a Drama Desk nomination for the role as the play toured to the Manhattan Theatre Club and the McCarter Theatre. Recently, she starred on Broadway in August Wilson's play "Gem of the Ocean."
Hamilton's film credits include: Clint Eastwood's True Crime; the independents Palookaville, Drunks, The Sum of All Fears; as "Ophelia" in director Campbell Scott's film of Hamlet; and the Jonathan Demme films Beloved and The Truth About Charlie, where LisaGay starred opposite Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton; Nine Lives directed by Rodrigo Garcia; Honeydripper directed by John Sayles; The Tourist opposite Hugh Jackman and Ewan MacGregor; The Soloist directed by Joe Wright; and the upcoming Mother And Child again directed by Rodrigo Garcia.
Hamilton starred in Showtime's "A House Divided," opposite Sam Waterston, a production that received rave notices and many accolades. She is well known for her regular role on the Emmy Award-winning David Kelley drama, "The Practice" on ABC, for which she also directed an episode. Hamilton's documentary Beah: A Black Woman Speaks, which she directed and co-produced with Jonathan Demme, premiered on HBO and went on to win Best Documentary at the AFI Awards and a Peabody Award, and was nominated for Best Documentary by the Emmy committee and an Image Award.
Hamilton also starred opposite Ray Romano and Andre Braugher in the Emmy-nominated TNT series "Men of a Certain Age" and recurred on NBC's long-running drama "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." She most recently recurred on ABC's hit drama "Grey's Anatomy."
On the big screen, Hamilton appeared in the independent feature film Lovelace, featuring an all-star cast that includes Amanda Seyfried, James Franco, Sarah Jessica Parker, Peter Sarsgaard and many others. She appeared in Go For Sisters, the upcoming independent film from highly-acclaimed director, John Sayles, starring opposite Yolanda Ross, Edward James Olmos, Harold Perrineau and Isaiah Washington, which premiered at the 2013 SXSW Film Festival.
JAKE GOLDBERGER (WRITER/DIRECTOR) – Goldberger's debut feature, Don McKay, a dark comedic thriller starring Academy Award Nominees Thomas Haden Church, Elisabeth Shue, and Academy Award Winner Melissa Leo, premiered at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival before its theatrical release in April 2010 courtesy of Image Entertainment. While preparing to shoot Life Of A King, Goldberger wrote the script Back To Baltimore, a coming-of-age story about a group of 20-something's all facing different crossroads in their respective journeys. He plans on making the film his next directorial effort. Goldberger is represented by Debbie Deuble Hill at APA and Andrew Deane at Industry Entertainment.
TATIANA KELLY (PRODUCER) – Kelly's first film Wristcutters: A Love Story, starred Patrick Fugit, Shannyn Sossamon, Will Arnett, John Hawkes, Shea Whigham and Tom Waits. It premiered at Sundance in 2006, was released by Lionsgate, earned two Independent Spirit Award nominations, was screened in over 30 film festivals, and was an eight-time Best Feature festival winner.
Subsequent productions were Happiness Runs, starring Rutger Hauer, Andie MacDowell, Shiloh Fernandez, and Jesse Plemon; Smother, starring Steven Bauer and Taryn Manning; and Dark Yellow, starring Melora Walters and John Hawkes.
Recent theatrical releases include The Words, which was the Closing Night film in 2012 at Sundance starring Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Zoë Saldana, and Olivia Wilde, and The Procession, written and directed by Academy Award-nominee Robert Festinger (In The Bedroom), starring Lily Tomlin, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Lucy Punch.
Upcoming film releases include: Sunset Stories, which premiered at SXSW and stars Monique Curnen, Sung Kang, Joshua Leonard, Zosia Mamet with cameos by Jim Parsons and Kevin Bacon; and "Perfection," based on the short film Slice, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. The film was a participant in IFPʼs Independent Filmmaker Lab, and winner of the Adrienne Shelly Female Directing Grant. Kelly is currently in post-production on Amos' Wake, starring Shiloh Fernandez and Keisha Castle-Hughes.
In addition, Kelly is currently in prep on Cut Throat City, directed by RZA and produced by Reggie Hudlin (Django Unchained). Kelly is also in development on projects with Oscar-nominated writers Tab Murphy (Gorillas in the Mist) and Robert Rodat (Saving Private Ryan), Ernesto Foronda (Better Luck Tomorrow), and companies including Lynda Obst Productions and Tribeca Productions.
Kelly's work in television includes serving as a Supervising Producer on MTV's The Hills and more recently producing pilots for Bravo and USA Networks.
She holds a Master's degree from the London School of Economics and speaks five languages.
JIM YOUNG (PRODUCER) – Producer Jim Young's first production was the award-winning documentary Year of the Bull, which premiered on Showtime. He next produced the thriller, Homecoming, directed by Morgan J. Freeman and starring Mischa Barton, Jessica Stroup and Matt Long. Paramount Pictures released the film. Young then produced the dark comedy, Don McKay, starring Academy Award-nominees Thomas Haden Church and Elisabeth Shue, and Academy Award-winning Melissa Leo. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was released theatrically by Image Entertainment.
Young's next film, The Words, starring Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Irons, Dennis Quaid, Olivia Wilde, and Zoë Saldana was the Closing Night Film at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. CBS Films released the film this past September.
Lovelace, with an all-star cast including Amanda Seyfried, Peter Sarsgaard, Sharon Stone, Juno Temple, Hank Azaria and James Franco, premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Academy Award-winning filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman directed the drama. The film was acquired by The Weinstein Company/Radius and will be released this August.
He is currently developing many other projects with independent companies including Lynda Obst Productions, Ruby Films, Tollin Productions, Tribeca Productions, Underground Films, and Pressman Films.
Young was a fellow in the Film Independent Producer's Lab and received the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan Producer's Grant for The Man Who Knew Infinity. Previously, Young was a Creative Executive at actor Bill Paxton's American Entertainment Company.
He is a member of the Producer's Guild of America and attended New York University, where he majored in Dramatic Literature.
STEAKHAUS PRODUCTIONS (CO-PRODUCER) – Steakhaus Productions (steakhaus.com) is an award-winning independent film production company dedicated to bringing bold, new visions to movie-going audiences everywhere. Our team has over 20 years of combined experience in development, production management, line-producing and producing. Specializing in physical production, the company takes projects from paper to distribution by providing comprehensive development, production, post-production and festival strategies. Coordinating experience includes The Matrix Reloaded/Revolutions and several Nickelodeon, Sony and WB cartoon series. Line producing credits include Sunset Strip the Movie, Black Box TV for Anthony Zuiker, Secret Lives of Dorks for Steven J. Wolfe, and Supremacy, Chain Letter, The Hustle and Nite Tales for Deon Taylor and Jamie Foxx (No Brainer Films).
Steakhaus produced the indie favorite By Hook Or By Crook, a Sundance premiere and five-time best feature winner. Their films have long enjoyed success on the festival circuit, including LAFF, Tribeca, Outfest and four films at Sundance. Their popular documentary about passionate Dolly Parton fans, For the Love of Dolly, broadcasts on MTV's Logo and is available on DVD from Wolfe Video. Most recently, their indie romantic comedy Weather Girl premiered at Slamdance and sold to Screen Media, Regent, and Lifetime.
VALERIE STADLER (CO-PRODUCER) – Valerie Stadler started her career as a producer, co-founding Fat Chance Films where she developed the play Prey for Rock & Roll, which was adapted into a feature film starring Drea de Matteo and Gina Gershon (Sundance 2003). Next Valerie developed and co-produced the film Cavedweller for Showtime with Kyra Sedgwick and Aidan Quinn (2004 Spirit Awards nominee). She also produced the short film, What I Love About Dying, which premiered at Sundance in 2006. After scouring the planet for Dolly Parton fans for three years, Valerie produced the documentary, For the Love of Dolly, featuring five of Dolly's most ardent fans. The film aired on Logo and is available through Wolfe video.
Sunset Stories marked Valerie's debut as a screenwriter. Currently, she is in development on her feature script, Finding Lenny Snider (Producers: Tatiana Kelly and Steakhaus), which she will direct and was an Outfest Screenwriters Lab Fellow, 2009.
MARY VERNIEU (CO-PRODUCER/CASTING DIRECTOR) Pulled from https://www.charitybuzz.com/catalog_items/2949014
Mary Vernieu is literally one of the most sought-after casting directors in Hollywood. She tops every "Most Powerful Casting Director" list out there with the list of her casting credits (over 200 titles to her name) being too extensive to list them all here.
Suffice to say that Vernieu, the casting person of choice for many of Hollywood's best directors, has done it all. Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, The Black Swan) and Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids franchise, Sin City) are reported to not make a film if Vernieu isn't involved in the casting process. Her relationship with Oliver Stone spans the last decade and a half, beginning with Vernieu casting Nixon in 1995. Her credits include Indies to major studio franchises and big budget blockbusters. She put Billy Bob Thornton in the now cult classic, Bad Santa and was instrumental in securing the cast of Award season- and fan-favorite, Crazy Heart. She's discovered and launched the careers of many of today's important actors and, in her "spare time," she managed to open and successfully run Primitivo, one of the best restaurant/wine bars in Los Angeles.
Casting can be a long and brutal process, so Vernieu likes to make her filmmakers as comfortable as possible. Other big films that Vernieu cast include: Freeway, All the Pretty Horses, Cruel Intentions, Requiem for a Dream, The Glass House, Training Day, Orange County, Scooby Doo, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, I Heart Huckabees, Barbershop, Dukes of Hazzard, World Trade Center, and many more. Vernieu currently has more than two dozen more films in pre- or post- production now, or scheduled to be released this year including the much anticipated The Silver Linings Playbook, starring Bradley Cooper, Julia Stiles and Robert DeNiro, as well as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, starring Emma Watson and Gimme Shelter, starring Vanessa Hudgens and Brendan Fraser.
MARK SCHWARTZBARD (DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY) – Mark Schwartzbard studied film at Ithaca College, then moved to New York and spent a decade working as a camera assistant on films including Woody Allen's Hollywood Ending, Martin Scorsese's The Departed, Little Children, Rent, Hitch, Pollock, and the most fun of all, Borat, which led to work as a camera operator on director Larry Charlie's next few projects, including Religulous and Bruno. He also went through a period of working at one time or another, on many of the episodic TV shows filmed in New York, including "Now and Again," "Ed," "Sex In The City," "Third Watch," "The Street," "Hack," "Philly," and just about all of the "Law & Order" franchises. As DP, Mark has shot eleven narrative feature films—he recently shot The Comedy, starring Tim Heidecker of Tim and Eric; About Sunny starring Lauren Ambrose; The Dish and the Spoon starring Greta Gerwig; three documentary features; a healthy pile of shorts; and the Showtime series "La La Land."
MICHAEL FITZGERALD (PRODUCTION DESIGNER) – Michael Fitzgerald was thrilled to help Jake create the beautiful inspiring and transformational world of Life Of A King. Besides getting to create the streets and interiors of a harsher Washington D.C. in this film, Michael recently also worked on the Australian feature Around the Block, written and directed by Sarah Spillane, starring Jack Thompson and Christina Ricci; and Darren Stein's (Jawbreaker) ode to 80s silver glittery version of high school in GBF. Other feature credits include: Blayne Weaver's 6 Month Rule & Weather Girl (World premiere at LAFF 2008); Jordan Roberts' 1.2.3. Frankie Go Boom with Charlie Hunnam, Lizzy Caplan & Chris O'Dowd; indie festival hit I Do coming to theaters in June 2013; Deon Taylor's Supremacy with Danny Glover; Cinetico Production's Vincent & Luzy, coming soon to festivals; Happiness Runs; Live at Foxes Den; Jason Bushman's Hollywood, je t'aime, World Premiere at LAFF 2009; and Without Men with Eva Longoria and Christian Slater where Michael and his team recreated the colorful village of Mariquita! Currently, Michael is designing a modern day bad boy western with a Dry Mouth Saloon and a casino vault robbing on a film called Swelter with Alfred Molina and Jean Claude Van Damme that makes him think maybe everyone's fate would have a chance of turning out better if only they had a role model like Eugene.