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Van Peebles, Mario

Mario Van Peebles

1957

Actor, director

Mario Van Peebles has established himself as one of a prolific new generation of black filmmakers. After the handsome actor appeared in films and on television for more than five years, he was asked to direct a small-budget movie about drug abuse in the New York City ghetto. The resulting work, New Jack City, was both a commercial and a critical success, earning huge profits for its studio and making a permanent name for Van Peebles. Over the next decade, Van Peebles solidified his position in the film industry by delivering a vast array of entertaining, challenging films, the most notable being 2003's How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass, about his father.

Few young artists bring more impeccable credentials to moviemaking. Van Peebles is the son of veteran actor-director-writer Melvin Van Peebles, whom critics once dubbed the "godfather of modern black cinema." This is not, however, a case where a son has ridden to fame on his father's coattails. Mario was strongly encouraged to forge his own career, and he did so by working hard, looking for opportunities, and perfecting his craft through study and practice. Although the younger Van Peebles does not make light of his famous name, he admitted in Ebony that "it can get your foot in the door. But if you don't have the talent to keep the door open you're going to get your foot slammed off."

"I got special attention being the first-born and the ugliest," Van Peebles said of his unconventional childhood, as quoted by Ebony. The oldest of three children, Mario was born in Mexico City and grew up following his artistic parents from America to Europe and back again, as their jobs demanded. His white mother worked as a photographer while his father made movies and television specials. As a youth, Mario spent time in Paris, Morocco, Denmark, and San Francisco. Remembering those days in a People interview, Van Peebles said: "We were always broke. My room was usually a hotel closet. Mom was my schoolteacher." On the other hand, he noted, the gypsy life had its advantages. "I can speak four languages fluently," he continued in People. "French, Spanish, Uptown and Downtown."

Destined for Show "Business"

While Van Peebles was still young, his parents divorced. Thereafter he and his sister Megan lived in San Francisco with their mother, whom Van Peebles described in People as the "original hippie," a free-spirited woman who was open to the ideas of the day. Despite the divorce, Van Peebles's parents remained on cordial terms, so Mario saw his father frequently and even appeared in his landmark film, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, in 1971. The youngster had only a small part in the motion picture, which his father wrote and directed, butas would happen later with New Jack City that low-budget enterprise ultimately earned a hefty profit at the box office.

As a teenager, Van Peebles knew he wanted to be an actor, and after finishing high school, he sought his father's help. To Mario's surprise, his father was unwilling to lend a hand or afford him special opportunities to acquire roles. Van Peebles recalled in Ebony that his father said, "'I'm going to give you some free advice: Early to bed, early to rise, work like a dog and advertise!' That was the end of the conversation." Offended at first, Van Peebles began to ponder just what his father was trying to tell him. He eventually realized that "that was my father's way of telling me I had to learn to do it for myself ; that he loved me enough not to allow me to ride on his success by doing it for me," the actor related in Ebony. "Though it didn't seem like it then, it was the greatest gift he could have ever given me. So many kids of famous people never learned the value of earning something, or how sweet it is to have accomplishments to call your own."

Another piece of advice Van Peebles's father passed on was the notion that show business is a business, and anyone looking for a career in that market had better know how to manage money. Therefore, Mario enrolled at Columbia University as an economics major and earned his degree in 1978. The following year he worked for the City of New York as a budget analysta far cry from the glamorous world of films and television. Still, Van Peebles recognized in Ebony that "the degree has helped. With the business background you don't say, 'Would you put me in this movie,' you say, 'Let's do this movie.'"

By 1981 Van Peebles was firmly on his way to a career in his father's field. The two appeared together on Broadway in a 1981 play, Waltz of the Stork, written and directed by Melvin Van Peebles. When the play closed, Mario studied acting with Stella Adler and paid his bills by modeling and working as a photographer. Long before he made a name as an actor, Van Peebles earned excellent wages with the Elite and Ford agencies, appearing in the pages of Essence, Gentlemen's Quarterly, and other glossy magazines. He never lost sight of his original goals, though. He continued to take acting lessons and began to write screenplays, hoping to sell a feature film to a studio.

Van Peebles began to land major acting roles in 1984; he took a bit part in the film version of The Cotton Club, but he drew more notice for playing a menacing villain named X in Exterminator II. He also worked as a regular on the daytime television drama One Life to Live for several years. Van Peebles observed in Jet that when he finally began to make a decent living as an actor, his father told him, "Hey, now if you want to work together you can bring something to the pot and I'm not just carrying my son along." In recent years, the father-son collaboration has swung in Mario's favorhe has helped earn roles for his father and has found financial backing for some his father's projects.

Van Peebles's rise to the front ranks as an actor came after his performance in Clint Eastwood's well-received adventure-drama Heartbreak Ridge. In the 1986 film Van Peebles appeared as "Stitch" Jones, a marine recruit who becomes Eastwood's right-hand man during an invasion. In the meantime, Van Peebles also took a recurring role on the popular television show L.A. Law. Though he was offered a full-time position on that series, other obligations forced him to forgo the opportunity. One of his commitments was the portrayal of an off-beat scientist in Jaws: The Revenge, a role for which Van Peebles put on weight, grew dreadlocks, and adopted a thick Bahamian accent. The actor commented in People that he was willing to try any character part, however small, as long as it was interesting. "I'm one actor who will be on time, won't be high and won't want a star on his dressing room door," he promised.

At a Glance...

Born Mario Cain Van Peebles on January 15, 1957, in Mexico City, Mexico; son of Melvin (a writer, director, and actor) and Maria Magdalena (a photographer) Van Peebles. Education : Columbia University, BS, 1978; studied acting with Stella Adler.

Career : City of New York, budget analyst, c. 1979-80; Elite and Ford agencies, New York City, model, 1982-85; actor, 1982; film director, 1990.

Awards: Image Award, for outstanding supporting actor, 1989, for Heartbreak Ridge ; Black Reel Award, for best director, 2005, for How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass.

Addresses : Home Los Angeles, CA. Agent Chris Black, William Morris Agency, Inc., 151 El Camino Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.

Television was the next vehicle for expanding Van Peebles's acting talent. In 1987 he landed the lead role in Sonny Spoon, a comedy-drama about an unorthodox big city private detective. The show allowed Van Peebles many opportunities for displaying his versatility since his character frequently employed disguises. In one episode, for instance, he donned a wig and sang with a gospel choir in order to hide from maleficent pursuers. "One of the things I wanted to show was that here you have this young Black guy in the lead and he's able to cross every line," Van Peebles explained in Jet. "This guy's going to go from the church lady to the blond yuppie. They have me speaking French in the show, Spanish." Still, the actor added, "I really try to keep an eye on not letting get too super human." Sonny Spoon was one of the first hour-long television dramas to star a black actor. It never quite found a large audience, though, and was canceled after one season.

From Acting to Directing

Having proven himself as an actor, Van Peebles went on to achieve his goal of working behind the camera. He began with television, directing episodes of Wiseguys and 21 Jump Street and a CBS Afternoon Special for children called Malcolm Takes a Shot, in which a cocky high school basketball star suddenly develops epilepsy and can no longer play his favorite sport. With these projects to his credit, Van Peebles let it be known at the film studios that he was ready to try directing a feature-length production, and Warner Bros. approached him in 1990.

The studio had a hard-hitting script titled New JackCity about crack cocaine dealers in Harlem; the film was given a small budget and the studio had low expectations of those working on the project. "They expected us to not necessarily be on time and on budget," Van Peebles noted in Jet. "So, I think it was a nice surprise that we completed the movie on time and on budget." Van Peebles not only directed the filmwhich was shot in only 36 days for a fraction of the cost of most featureshe played a role in it as well.

Starring Wesley Snipes, rapper Ice-T, and Judd Nelson, New Jack City tells the story of Nino Brown, a ruthless crack dealer who rules his small domain in Harlem by any means necessary. Van Peebles cast himself as a police officer who supervises undercover operations aimed at putting Brown's crack empire out of business. "There aren't too many movies around that take a fresh look at old problems, especially problems like gangs and drugs," wrote a Jet reviewer. " New Jack City is one of those rare exceptions.... The movie deals with the exploitation of youngsters as it follows the rise of a Black gang that builds a lucrative crack kingdom in Harlem. In addition to showing how horrifying and ruthless the world of drugs and gangs can be, it also shows the caring and compassionate side of its villains."

New Jack City was released the same weekend as The Hard Way, an action-comedy starring Michael J. Fox. The latter film cost more than three times as much as New Jack City to create, but was quickly eclipsed at the box office by Van Peebles's film. In fact, riots broke out at some urban theaters, in part, because of the huge crowds that attended early screenings of the controversial film. In its first weekend of release, New Jack City which cost $8.5 million to makegrossed more than $10 million. It has since become an extremely popular and best-selling home video.

The press was quick to cover the violence at theaters showing New Jack City, and some observers even blamed the movie's content for the incidents that occurred in several cities. Van Peebles responded to these charges in a New York Times editorial: "The film opened to positive reviews and is doing well at the box office, but its anti-drug, anti-violence message seems to be getting lost in controversy. People assume that the movie's content somehow inspired young people who see it to violencegive me a break. Was the rioting in Los Angeles caused by young people who had just seen New Jack City or because they couldn't get in to see it? Was it because they had seen the movie or because they had seen the video of a black man being beaten by members of the Los Angeles police department?"

The violence did indeed subside when more theaters agreed to show the film, and Van Peebles's talent as a director was not overlooked. The movie's success earned Van Peebles a spot on the "A" list of black directors in Hollywood, assuring that he will be considered for future projects. A writer in the Economist noted that "Mr.

Peebles is best known as a film and television actor. Inexperienced as well as black, he would have stood no chance of a studio contract as recently as five years ago. Times have changed." Van Peebles took advantage of every opportunity that his newfound celebrity afforded him. Over the next decade he would rise to the top of his industry as both an actor and director. But in doing so, he never lost his focus on the social messages of his work.

Continued in his Father's Footsteps

He followed his feature film directorial debut New Jack City with Posse in 1993. Posse depicts life in the Wild West from a black perspective. Van Peebles hoped the film would provide audiences the context needed to understand the choices early black Americans made. "Back in 1893 we couldn't rap our way out of the 'hood,' so a lot of us became outlaws," he told Essence.

Van Peebles relishes following in his father's footsteps, telling Jet: "There aren't a lot of second generation filmmakers. I love to see us passing it on.... You see us doing what some of the White families have never even done." In the New York Times Van Peebles publicly thanked his father for being a role model and a source of inspiration: "Thanks to you [Dad], I grew up seeing a black man direct, a black man in charge, so I didn't have a color chip on my shoulder.... It never occurred to me that I couldn't do it because of my color, if I had the talent. Like you said, 'Hollywood isn't as much black and white as it is ultra-green.'" Father and son collaborated on several films, including the co-direction of the 1996 film Gang of Blue about police brutality and corruption.

In 2003, he wrote and produced a film depicting his father's place as a pioneer in the film industry: How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass, a story of how his father made Sweet Sweetback's Baad Assss in 1973. When Melvin Van Peebles embarked on making Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song in the early 1970s, he hurtled some of the film industry's most difficult blockades. His intense desire and firm commitment to his vision for the film, weathered near financial ruin, police harassment, racism, and his own failing health. Van Peebles told Interview that his father "changed the dynamic in movies. Prior to Sweetback almost all films with minorities showed them as one-dimensional. And the subtext of that is that if you can reduce a people to one dimension, either cinematically or in the media, you can then make it easier to repress them. With Sweetback you started to see empowered black folks on the screen...." Van Peebles plays his father with sympathy and respect, offering audiences not only insight into the production of independent films but also a sense of affects the sweeping social changes of the time have had on the film industry. The film won Van Peebles a Black Reel Award.

Van Peebles sees his directing and acting as symbiotic; he can't do one without the other. "As a director I've made the films I have to make," he told Jet, adding "As an actor I've made the films I want to make." When he accepted the role of black action hero in Solo, he commented to Jet that "If I didn't do what I did as a director, I wouldn't be getting these kinds of offers as an actor. I'm in a unique position as a director and an actor. I can be what Rev. Jesse Jackson refers to as the tree shaker and the jelly maker," adds Van Peebles. "Those who shake the tree (make) the fruit fall down."

Selected works

Plays

Waltz of the Stork, 1981.

Champeen!, 1983.

Take Me Along, 1984.

Cotton Club, 1984.

Films

Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, 1971.

The Cotton Club, 1984.

Delivery Boys, 1984.

Exterminator II, 1984.

South Bronx Heroes (also known as The Runaways and Revenge of the Innocents ), 1985.

Rappin', 1985.

3:15, the Moment of Truth, 1986.

Heartbreak Ridge, 1986.

The Last Resort, 1986.

Jaws: The Revenge, 1987.

Hot Shot, 1987.

New Jack City, 1991.

Posse, 1993.

Panther, 1995.

Gang in Blue, 1996.

Solo, 1996.

Love Kills, 1998.

Judgment Day, 1999.

Ali, 2001.

How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass, 2003.

Television

The Sophisticated Gents, NBC, 1981.

L.A. Law, NBC, 1986.

Sonny Spoon, 1987-88.

One Life to Live, ABC.

Screenplays

(With Marc Shmuger) South Bronx Heroes, 1985.

Identity Crisis, 1989.

Los Locos, 1997.

Love Kills, 1998.

Standing Knockdown, 1999.

How to Get the Man's Foot Outta Your Ass, 2003.

Sources

Books

Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 6, Gale, 1989.

Periodicals

Ebony, May 1987; November 1987; June 1988.

Economist, March 30, 1991.

Entertainment Weekly, June 4, 2004, pp. 42-44.

Essence, June 1993.

Interview, June 2004.

Jet, July 27, 1987; April 18, 1988; March 11, 1991; August 7, 1995; August 26, 1996; September 23, 1996.

New York Times, March 5, 1990; March 8, 1991; March 31, 1991.

People, June 20, 1983; March 2, 1987.

Premiere, June 2004, pp. 98-100, 124.

On-line

"Get the Man's Foot Out," Hollywood Reporter, www.thehollywoodreporter.com/thr/reviews/review_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1978600 (April 29, 2005).

Anne Janette Johnson and Sara Pendergast

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Van Peebles, Mario 1957(?)–

Mario Van Peebles 1957(?)

Actor, director

At a Glance

Young Black Guy in the Lead

Reached a New Pinnacle with New Jack City

Joined the Ranks of Spike Lee

Selected writings

Sources

Mario Van Peebles, once regarded as an up-and-coming actor, has established himself as one of a prolific new generation of black filmmakers with a widely acclaimed movie to his credit. After the handsome actor appeared in films and on television for more than five years, he was asked to direct a small-budget movie about drug abuse in the New York City ghetto. The resulting work, New Jack City, was both a commercial and a critical success, earning huge profits for its studio and making a permanent name for Van Peebles.

Few young artists bring more impeccable credentials to moviemaking. Van Peebles is the son of veteran actor-director-writer Melvin Van Peebles, whom critics once dubbed the godfather of modern black cinema. This is not, however, a case where a son has ridden to fame on his fathers coattails. Mario was strongly encouraged to forge his own career, and he did so by working hard, looking for opportunities, and perfecting his craft through study and practice. Although the younger Van Peebles does not make light of his famous name, he admitted in Ebony that it can get your foot in the door. But if you dont have the talent to keep the door open youre going to get your foot slammed off.

I got special attention being the first-born and the ugliest, Van Peebles said of his unconventional childhood, as quoted by Ebony. The oldest of three children, Mario was born in Mexico City and grew up following his artistic parents from America to Europe and back again, as their jobs demanded. His white mother worked as a photographer while his father made movies and television specials. As a youth, Mario spent time in Paris, Morocco, Denmark, and San Francisco. Remembering those days in a People interview, Van Peebles said: We were always broke. My room was usually a hotel closet. Mom was my school-teacher. On the other hand, he noted, the gypsy life had its advantages. I can speak four languages fluently, he continued in People. French, Spanish, Uptown and Downtown.

While Van Peebles was still young, his parents divorced. Thereafter he and his sister Megan lived in San Francisco with their mother, whom Van Peebles described in People as the original hippie, a free-spirited woman who was open to the ideas of the day. Despite the divorce, Van Peebless parents remained on cordial

At a Glance

Born Mario Cain Van Peebles, c. 1957, in Mexico City, Mexico; son of Melvin (a writer, director, and actor) and Maria Magdalena (a photographer) Van Peebles. Education: Columbia University, B.S., 1978; studied acting with Stella Adler.

Budget analyst for the City of New York, c. 1979-80; model with Elite and Ford agencies, New York City, 1982-85; actor, 1982; film director, 1990. Principal stage appearances include Waltz of the Stork, 1981; Champeen!, 1983; Take Me Along, 1984; and Cotton Club. Principal film appearances include Sweet Sweetbacks Baadasssss Song, 1971; The Cotton Club, 1984; Delivery Boys, 1984; Exterminator II, 1984; South Bronx Heroes (also known as The Runaways and Revenge of the Innocents), 1985; Rappin, 1985; 3:15, the Moment of Truth, 1986; Heartbreak Ridge, 1986; The Last Resort, 1986; Jaws: The Revenge, 1987; Hot Shot, 1987; and New Jack City, 1991. Principal television appearances include The Sophisticated Gents, NBC, 1981; L.A. Law, NBC, 1986; Sonny Spoon, 1987-88; and One Life to Live, ABC. Director of television dramas and feature films, including Malcolm Takes a Shot, Juliet, New Jack City, and episodes of television series Wiseguys and 21 Jump Street.

Addresses: Home Los Angeles, CA. Agent Chris Black, William Morris Agency, Inc., 151 El Camino Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.

terms, so Mario saw his father frequently and even appeared in his landmark film, Sweet Sweetbacks Baadasssss Song, in 1971. The youngster had only a small part in the motion picture, which his father wrote and directed, butas would happen later with New Jack City that low-budget enterprise ultimately earned a hefty profit at the box office.

As a teenager, Van Peebles knew he wanted to be an actor, and after finishing high school, he sought his fathers help. To Marios surprise, his father was unwilling to lend a hand or afford him special opportunities to acquire roles. Van Peebles recalled in Ebony that his father said, Im going to give you some free advice: Early to bed, early to rise, work like a dog and advertise! That was the end of the conversation. Offended at first, Van Peebles began to ponder just what his father was trying to tell him. He eventually realized that that was my fathers way of telling me I had to learn to do it for myself; that he loved me enough not to allow me to ride on his success by doing it for me, the actor related in Ebony. Though it didnt seem like it then, it was the greatest gift he could have ever given me. So many kids of famous people never learned the value of earning something, or how sweet it is to have accomplishments to call your own.

Another piece of advice Van Peebless father passed on was the notion that show business is a business, and anyone looking for a career in that market had better know how to manage money. Therefore, Mario enrolled at Columbia University as an economics major and earned his degree in 1978. The following year he worked for the City of New York as a budget analysta far cry from the glamorous world of films and television. Still, Van Peebles recognized in Ebony that the degree has helped. With the business background you dont say, Would you put me in this movie, you say, Lets do this movie.

By 1981 Van Peebles was firmly on his way to a career in his fathers field. The two appeared together on Broadway in a 1981 play, Waltz of the Stork, written and directed by Melvin Van Peebles. When the play closed, Mario studied acting with Stella Adler and paid his bills by modeling and working as a photographer. Long before he made a name as an actor, Van Peebles earned excellent wages with the Elite and Ford agencies, appearing in the pages of Essence, Gentlemens Quarterly, and other glossy magazines. He never lost sight of his original goals, though. He continued to take acting lessons and began to write screenplays, hoping to sell a feature film to a studio.

Young Black Guy in the Lead

Van Peebles began to land major acting roles in 1984; he took a bit part in the film version of The Cotton Club, but he drew more notice for playing a menacing villain named X in Exterminator II. He also worked as a regular on the daytime television drama One Life to Live for several years. Van Peebles observed in Jet that when he finally began to make a decent living as an actor, his father told him, Hey, now if you want to work together you can bring something to the pot and Im not just carrying my son along. In recent years, the father-son collaboration has swung in Marios favorhe has helped earn roles for his father and has found financial backing for some his fathers projects.

Van Peebless rise to the front ranks as an actor came after his performance in Clint Eastwoods well-received adventure-drama Heartbreak Ridge. In the 1986 film Van Peebles appeared as Stitch Jones, a marine recruit who becomes Eastwoods right-hand man during an invasion. In the meantime, Van Peebles also took a recurring role on the popular television show L.A. Law. Though he was offered a full-time position on that series, other obligations forced him to forgo the opportunity. One of his commitments was the portrayal of an off-beat scientist in Jaws: The Revenge, a role for which Van Peebles put on weight, grew dreadlocks, and adopted a thick Bahamian accent. The actor commented in People that he was willing to try any character part, however small, as long as it was interesting. Im one actor who will be on time, wont be high and wont want a star on his dressing room door, he promised.

Television was the next vehicle for expanding Van Peebless acting talent. In 1987 he landed the lead role in Sonny Spoon, a comedy-drama about an unorthodox big city private detective. The show allowed Van Peebles many opportunities for displaying his versatility since his character frequently employed disguises. In one episode, for instance, he donned a wig and sang with a gospel choir in order to hide from maleficent pursuers. One of the things I wanted to show was that here you have this young Black guy in the lead and hes able to cross every line, Van Peebles explained in Jet. This guys going to go from the church lady to the blond yuppie. They have me speaking French in the show, Spanish. Still, the actor added, I really try to keep an eye on not letting [the character] get too super human. Sonny Spoon was one of the first hour-long television dramas to star a black actor. It never quite found a large audience, though, and was canceled after one season.

Reached a New Pinnacle with New Jack City

Having proven himself as an actor, Van Peebles went on to achieve his goal of working behind the camera. He began with television, directing episodes of Wiseguys and 21 Jump Street and a CBS Afternoon Special for children called Malcolm Takes a Shot, in which a cocky high school basketball star suddenly develops epilepsy and can no longer play his favorite sport. With these projects to his credit, Van Peebles let it be known at the film studios that he was ready to try directing a feature-length production, and Warner Bros. approached him in 1990.

The studio had a hard-hitting script titled New Jack City about crack cocaine dealers in Harlem; the film was given a small budget and the studio had low expectations of those working on the project. They expected us to not necessarily be on time and on budget, Van Peebles noted in Jet. So, I think it was a nice surprise that we completed the movie on time and on budget. Van Peebles not only directed the filmwhich was shot in only 36 days for a fraction of the cost of most featureshe played a role in it as well.

Starring Wesley Snipes, rapper Ice-T, and Judd Nelson, New Jack City tells the story of Nino Brown, a ruthless crack dealer who rules his small domain in Harlem by any means necessary. Van Peebles cast himself as a police officer who supervises undercover operations aimed at putting Browns crack empire out of business. There arent too many movies around that take a fresh look at old problems, especially problems like gangs and drugs, wrote a Jet reviewer. New Jack City is one of those rare exceptions. The movie deals with the exploitation of youngsters as it follows the rise of a Black gang that builds a lucrative crack kingdom in Harlem. In addition to showing how horrifying and ruthless the world of drugs and gangs can be, it also shows the caring and compassionate side of its villains.

New Jack City was released the same weekend as The Hard Way, an action-comedy starring Michael J. Fox.

The latter film cost more than three times as much as New Jack City to create, but was quickly eclipsed at the box office by Van Peebless film. In fact, riots broke out at some urban theaters, in part, because of the huge crowds that attended early screenings of the controversial film. In its first weekend of release, New Jack City which cost $8.5 million to makegrossed more than $10 million. It has since become an extremely popular and best-selling home video.

The press was quick to cover the violence at theaters showing New Jack City, and some observers even blamed the movies content for the incidents that occurred in several cities. Van Peebles responded to these charges in a New York Times editorial: The film opened to positive reviews and is doing well at the box office, but its anti-drug, anti-violence message seems to be getting lost in controversy. People assume that the movies content somehow inspired young people who see it to violencegive me a break. Was the rioting in Los Angeles caused by young people who had just seen New Jack City or because they couldnt get in to see it? Was it because they had seen the movie or because they had seen the video of a black man being beaten by members of the Los Angeles police department?

Joined the Ranks of Spike Lee

The violence did indeed subside when more theaters agreed to show the film, and Van Peebless talent as a director was not overlooked. The movies success earned Van Peebles a spot on the A list of black directors in Hollywood, assuring that he will be considered for future projects. A writer in the Economist noted that Mr. [Van] Peebles is best known as a film and television actor. Inexperienced as well as black, he would have stood no chance of a studio contract as recently as five years ago. Times have changed. Like his peers Robert Townsend and Spike Lee, Van Peebles seems destined for a decorated directing career, one that will no doubt allow him to continue his acting work as well.

In the New York Times Van Peebles publicly thanked his father for being a role model and a source of inspiration: Thanks to you, [Dad], I grew up seeing a black man direct, a black man in charge, so I didnt have a color chip on my shoulder. It never occurred to me that I couldnt do it because of my color, if I had the talent. Like you said, Hollywood isnt as much black and white as it is ultra-green.

Selected writings

(With Marc Shmuger) South Bronx Heroes (screenplay; also known as The Runaways and Revenge of the Innocents), Continental, 1985.

Juliet (screenplay), American Film Institute.

Sources

Books

Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 6, Gale, 1989.

Periodicals

Ebony, May 1987; November 1987; June 1988.

Economist, March 30, 1991.

Jet, July 27, 1987; April 18, 1988; March 11, 1991.

New York Times, March 5, 1990; March 8, 1991; March 31,1991.

People, June 20, 1983; March 2, 1987.

Anne Janette Johnson

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Van Peebles, Mario 1957(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 27 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Van Peebles, Mario 1957(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 27, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/van-peebles-mario-1957

"Van Peebles, Mario 1957(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved July 27, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/van-peebles-mario-1957