I recently had the pleasure of spending 5 minutes with 24 year Hollywood veteran Dartanyan Edmonds who you’ve seen on Def Comedy Jam and movies such as A Thin Line Between Love and Hate and Deliver Us From Eva to discuss his start in the business and the politics involved for African AmericanEentertainers.
JG: Thank you Dartanyan, for your time. How did you get your start in the industry?
DE: Back in high school I met another freshmen who had been doing stand up for a few weeks and he took me to a club called the Comedy Cafe on K street in Washington DC. He showed me how to sign up for open mic night. He also took me to Garvins which was a very popular comedy club in the late 80′s. We were both 15 & 16 years old at the time.
JG: So you’ve been doing this a long time now?
DE: Yes, 24 years and counting.
JG: What would you say is the one thing you don’t like about the industry that many may not know from the outside looking in? Of course, we all think you and other celebrities are “lucky”.
DE: That would have to be a combination of things for me. Racism, politics, and the system of Hollywood. It’s not the same for African American entertainers. I try to explain this to people all the time. It’s not an even playing field.
JG: On that note. There was the highly followed Dave Chappelle incident, the supposed “breakdown” Martin Lawrence had and many many others. How do you side with the rumors about the powers that be controlling how African Americans are portrayed in Hollywood? Like the saying goes, at some point, you have to literally “wear a dress” or “get shot in the ass” in a film to make it as an African American male. Any truth to that from what you’ve experienced?
DE: Funny you mentioned these two individuals. David is the other teenage comedian who I met in school and took me to the clubs. Martin was a good friend whom I use to work for. Both of them were victims of the system of Hollywood. These men are super talented and have both reached the top of any in the game. But yet Hollywood looked for any reason to tear them down. What did either of them do wrong? They didn’t get high off drugs and end up in some kids bedroom naked, and later get rewarded with a ton of big summer Block Busters to keep them rich. These men stood their grown on issues that were very close to them and their beliefs.
As for rumors of controlling. That is more so a fact. Look at BET for example. Once it was sold to a corporation outside of the black structure. You see all the positive and informative programming get cut and replaced with more booty, drank, smoke, cars, and ignorance. No more Teen Summits, BET Nightly News, or Info shows with Ed Gordon. You look at what types of roles and films wins Oscars for negative portrayals of Blacks. I’m gonna be honest. I can’t stand the movie Blind Side. Nothing against the actors in the film but how many times are we going to see another white person saving some poor, dumb, nigger? There are better true stories to be told.
JG: I 100% agree with you there on all counts and respect your honesty. BET has gotten extremely hard to watch. I do so only out of respect and in hopes of it’s return one day. Speaking of the powers that be and two careers that need to be sustained, lets move on. Here’s a not so professional question, but I’ve always wondered about this. In general, is it a lump sum agreement for a movie role or is it very common to also have royalties included in the deal?
DE: Honesty only exist because of truth. No need to cover me on speaking the truth. I fear no so called powers. Because they aren’t even the power. I have been around long enough to know top executives and watch them lose their jobs only to be replaced by the kid in the mail room. The real power is MONEY! Whoever has the most can make things move in any industry or government. Hollywood is a plantation and the overseer’s are not good to their workers. As for your question of payment. It’s a system in place set up by our lovely Union. The Union makes sure you residuals are paid. There are pay scales for some and other terms to pay. But nobody gives a fuck as long as the check clears.
JG: Word! Your probably sick and tired of being sick and tired of this one. I only ask because it has to make you feel “something” to hear and see how friends and family would react if it were true. What was the 2007 suicide rumor about and do you know how it was started?
DE: Obviously it was just that. A rumor. I’ve seen that very same rumor done a ton of times on other celebs through the years. Saying we are dead in one way or another. I think it’s almost common now. They hit the brother Sinbad right after me and lately even claimed Jackie Chan and Eddie Murphy. Whoever takes time out of their life to try and hurt any of our families in that way is pretty sick. And obviously needs to find a better hobby.
JG: One last question. What can we look forward to from you in the near future?
DE: My return to stand up! I’ve been MIA for a while. It’s time. I also have a few new film projects in works.
Dartanyan Edmonds everyone! You’re invited to follow him at Dartanyan Edmonds Fan Page. Thank you, again Dartanyan for taking this time out of your busy schedule to speak with CityPhish.com