After winning the Grand Jury Prize at the 26th Annual Dances with Films: LA earlier this summer, Black Man Films’ latest film, “Speak Up Brotha!,” was named BEST NARRATIVE SHORT at the Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival. The team, founded by actor-writer-producer Roderick Lawrence (Ike Turner in TINA: The Tina Turner Musical) and actor-producer Salma Qarnain (Mrs. Biology-Kumar in Life of Pi), took home the prize for the second consecutive year. In 2022, the team won with their Oscar-qualified short, “Silent Partner.”
Since making its world premiere this Spring at the Oscar-qualifying Cleveland International Film Festival, “Speak Up Brotha!” is an official selection of 9 festivals to date, making its Southern premiere at the Oscar-qualifying American Black Film Festival (ABFF); its West Coast premiere at the prestigious Dances with Films: LA at the TCL Chinese Theatres, where the film won the Grand Jury Prize; its Northeastern premiere at the Oscar-qualifying Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival (MVAAFF); and its Atlanta premiere at the Oscar-qualifying BronzeLens Film Festival, where the film was nominated for Best Short.
Written by and starring Roderick Lawrence and featuring Terrence “T.C.” Carson (2023 NAACP Image Awards Nominee, “Living Single”), “Speak Up Brotha!” is an ode to Black romance films of the 90s like “Love Jones” and “Poetic Justice.” It offers a refreshing perspective on anxiety in communication and Black love by uniquely melding narrative storytelling with spoken word. “Speak Up Brotha!” was directed by Wes Andre Goodrich (“Palm Sunday”); co-written by renowned spoken word artist Obbie West and James J. Johnson (“Silent Partner”); lensed by Nona Catusanu (“The Snakes” HBO short film; “The Booze, Bets and Sex that Built America”); and produced by Salma Qarnain (“Silent Partner,” Black Man Films; Broadway’s LIFE OF PI) in association with EPs Ron Gillyard and Will Campbell (Quantasy Studios) and with Emmy Award Winner Dario Harris (“The Girl in Apartment 15”) co-producing.
Roderick Lawrence is a highly acclaimed actor and the Co-Founder of Black Man Films. He is a 2022 BronzeLens Film Festival BEST ACTOR recipient (Oscar-qualifying) and a 2020 AUDELCO nominee. His credits include Simba in Disney’s THE LION KING National Tour, Ramses in the Broadway-bound THE PRINCE OF EGYPT, Othello in John Leguizamo’s OTHELLO: THE REMIX, Floyd Barton in August Wilson’s SEVEN GUITARS, and Jesus in GODSPELL. He is currently starring as Ike Turner in the National Tour of Broadway’s TINA: THE TINA TURNER MUSICAL.
During the pandemic, Roderick created, starred in, and produced the multi-award-winning narrative short, SILENT PARTNER, which garnered 21 festival acceptances (4 Oscar qualifiers; 8 awards and nominations), was a finalist in the HBO MAX® Latino Short Film Competition, and qualified for the 2023 Oscars. Most recently, he wrote, starred in, and produced the narrative short SPEAK UP BROTHA!, which premiered at the Oscar-qualifying Cleveland International Film Festival and is currently on the festival circuit (4 Oscar qualifiers; 9 official selections to date; Grand Jury Prize recipient at DWF:LA, Best Narrative Short at MCHRFF). The feature version of SILENT PARTNER is set to shoot this December.
Roderick trained at and received his B.M. in Music Theatre at one of the top five music theatre conservatory programs in the country, Baldwin Wallace Conservatory of Music. He is repped by Schacter Entertainment and DGRW.
Black Man Films’ “Speak Up Brotha!” Wins Best Narrative Short at the Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival