Actor Spotlight: Samuel L. Jackson

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When thinking of Samuel Leroy Jackson words such as great, legend and prosperous should stimulate your mind. He was born on December 21st, 1948 in Washington, D.C. He is the only son of Elizabeth Montgomery and Roy Henry Jackson. His father, who he only met twice in his lifetime, died of alcoholism and his mother, who worked as a factory worker at the time, reared Jackson the best that she could on a single parent’s salary. He attended several segregated schools and graduated from Riverside High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee. During his childhood he dealt with a very bad stuttering problem but he did not let that interfere with his future. He attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia pursuing a degree in Marine Biology but later found an interest in the theater after joining an acting group to get extra credit points in class. Before graduating in 1972, he co-founded the Just Us Theatre.

After graduation Jackson began his acting career in multiple plays such as Home and A Soldier’s Play. He also appeared in several made for television movies and made his feature film debut in a blaxploitation independent film entitled Together for Days in 1972. His most popular stage plays were The Piano Lesson and Two Trains Running which premiered in the Yale Repertory Theatre in 1976 which ran for more than a decade. At this point he developed early addictions to alcohol and cocaine which, in his mind, enabled him to finish his plays as they continued throughout the season. Even with his addiction he was determined to become a successful actor and premiered in the 1988 film Coming to America. Also in 1988 he took on two small but pivotal roles in the Spike Lee films School Daze and Do the Right Thing which brought him much wanted name recognition.

In 1991 Jackson successfully completed rehab and appeared in the film Jungle Fever as a crack cocaine addict which he won critical acclaim from most movie critics. This role would cement Jackson’s acting ability as a major player in Hollywood. In 1991 the Cannes Film Festival created a Supporting Actor award for his role in the film Pulp Fiction. After Pulp Fiction Jackson did several major movies that took his career to a new level such as Menace to Society (1993), A Time to Kill (1996), Eve’s Bayou (1997), Changing Lanes (2002) and Coach Carter (2005). Hard work brings great rewards because on June 13th, 2000 Jackson was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and on January 30th, 2006 he was honored with a hand and footprint ceremony at the Grumman’s Chinese Theater. He was only the 7th African American and 191st actor to be recognized in this manner.  In 2016 he was honored with the BET Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jackson is married to actress and sports channel producer LaTanya Richardson, whom he met while attending Morehouse College. The couple, who reside in Los Angeles, California, have one daughter named Zoe.

MaRhonda Ratcliffe is a Junior Broadcast/Mass Communications major from Laurel, Mississippi. She will be a contributing writer for The Campus Chronicle for the 2016-2017 school year.

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