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3 Responses to "News and Production"
  1. Filming has been completed on writer/director Marishka S. Phillips’, MELINDA, a suspense-filled short, starring Tony Award winner LaChanze in the title role. LaChanze is one of three actresses announced to play Donna Summer in the world premier musical, based on the singer’s life and career, this November at the La Jolla Playhouse.

    Ms. Phillips, who along with Dr. Leah Randolph, serves as executive producer on MELINDA, began writing the treatment for the film back in 2011, and like so many independent artist these days, turned to crowdfunding for the initial capital to begin filming.

    MELINDA is a modern-day interpretation of a Greek tragedy set in contemporary New Orleans. With its unique history, architecture, culture and traditions, the city becomes a central character in the narrative, focused on the prominent LaCroix family, and exposes a world where deception, secrets, and lies take equal prominence, and where spiritualism and rituals collide.

    “When I first read the script, I was immediately intrigued,” says lead actress LaChanze of the complexed, multi-dimentional character she takes on. “And working with Marishka was a dream for me. She is truly an actor’s director.”

    MELINDA marks the fifth directorial film credit for the Brooklyn born Ms. Phillips, who began as a musical theatre performer at age 13, traveling with the Howard University touring company of RAISIN. Before making her career transition into directing, Ms. Phillips amassed an impressive list of Broadway credits that included UPTOWN: IT’S HOT, BUBBLING BROWN SUGAR, FAME: THE MUSICAL, THE WIZ and many more.

    She has traveled the world performing with high profiled recording artists including Sean “P Diddy” Combs and Cece Winan, and has worked as a casting director and acting coach. She has now transferred all of those acquired skills and knowledge into her current role of filmmaker, putting both her casting and her coaching experience to good use on this project.

    In her search for the film’s cast, she saw a long list of exception actors, ultimately falling back on her theatre roots for final casting. “I brought my NY Theatre Family and my students together on this project. I went back to people who worked with me on Broadway, who I had coached, and who I had directed in the past,” she says.

    The cast for MELINDA includes many recognizable names from theatre and television: LaChanze as Melinda LaCroix(Tony Award, The Color Purple); Terri J. Vaugh as Stacia LeBeau (NAACP Award, The Steve Harvey Show); Lillias White as Madam Magda (Tony , Drama Desk, Obie and Outer Critics Circle Awards); Rosalyn Coleman Williams (Outer Critics Circle Award); Jerome Preston Bates (Tony Award winner, August Wilson’s Jitney); R&B singer/songwriter Monifah Carter as Hannah; Tara Wallace as Rachel Benoit (Love and Hip-Hop); and model turn actor Gregory Malonson as Jason LaCroix. Adding to the cast, two young newcomers Daniel Cunningham and Emperor Kaioyus who play the La Croix’s young sons.

    MELINDA is currently in the artful hands of award-winning DP and film editor Charles Jones, who is readying the film for a 2018 Short-Film Festival run. The end goal, according to Ms. Phillips, is to gain the backing necessary to turn the short into a full-length feature. “I know that it takes a village for us to be able to tell our stories,” says Ms. Phillips, “I know from first-hand experience what that village meant to my project already.”

    If you are interested in contributing to the post-production work necessary to complete the short, you can go to MELINDA’s gofundme page for information.

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  2. I am a publicist handling a recently completed Black film, by Marishka S. Phillips. The film, a short, is titled MELINDA, a contemporary Greek drama starring Tony Award winner, LaChanze.

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