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ReWired for Change Founding Members

In the fall of 2008, cast members of HBO’s critically acclaimed series “The Wire” were invited to join National Urban League Executive Director, Marc Morial on a voter empowerment tour of Virginia and North Carolina. After witnessing the positive influence the group seemed to have, Sonja Sohn was inspired to bring everyone together to decide how they could best use their association with the show and its message as a tool for social change. ReWired for Change (RWFC) was born, and in the following years has focused its efforts on reaching the youth and families whose plight was so heartbreakingly depicted throughout the five seasons of the show.

Our founding members consist of an array of former cast members and crew from HBO’s hit television series, “The Wire.” We offer our time, creativity, and cultural influence to support high risk youth before they are lost to the destructive circumstances of their everyday lives. At ReWired for Change, we promote family and community development, crime and violence prevention, creativity and cultural awareness through media advocacy, public awareness campaigns and the efforts of our Village House team.

Gbenga Akinnagbe

Born in Washington, D.C. to Nigerian parents and raised in Montgomery County, Maryland, Akinnagbe was in and out of trouble as a youth. He is the second oldest of six children, one older sister and four younger brothers. It wasn’t until he joined the wrestling team in his junior year of high school that he gained focus in his life. He attended Colonel Zadok A. Magruder High School in Rockville, Maryland. Gbenga attended Bucknell University on a wrestling scholarship and majored in Political Science and English, graduating in 2000. He was a star wrestler in college and a champion all-state and all-conference competitor in high school. He is the cousin of DC rapper Wale.

After graduating, his next move was working at the Corporation for National Service, the federal agency in Washington D.C. that administers Americorps and other volunteer programs. A year later, while sitting in his cubicle at work, Gbenga decided that he wanted to break from the monotony of a standard 9 to 5 job and learn about acting.

He bought books and deeply researched his future profession. After attending many auditions, Gbenga earned a role at the Shakespeare Theater in D.C., and later worked his way into various productions in the area, performing for crowds at the prestigious Kennedy Theater and Shakespeare in the Park. While taking acting classes in New Jersey, Gbenga was invited to audition for a recurring role on The Wire. He earned the part of Chris Partlow for the series. He also played “Yinka” in BarberShop: The Series. In the summer of 2006, Gbenga performed the role of “Zim” in the NYC Fringe Festival’s “Outstanding Play” award-winning production of “Modern Missionary”. In 2007, Gbenga appeared in the Oscar-nominated film The Savages with Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Laura Linney, and Philip Bosco. His latest projects include Tony Scott’s The Taking of Pelham 1, 2, 3 with Denzel Washington and John Travolta as well as Edge of Darkness alongside Mel Gibson for director Martin Campbell.

Reg E. Cathey

Broadway: The Green Bird Off-Broadway: Blue Door, White Chocolate, Talk, Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Macbeth International: The Shawshank Rdemption Regional: Henry IV, Art, Crowbar, Bad Penny, The Cure At Troy Film: 508 Nelson, S.W.A.T., A Cold Day in August, Pooty Tang, American Psycho, The Machinist, Seven, Ill Gotten Gains, Tank Girl, Clear and Present Danger, The Mask,Airheads, What About Bob, Born on the Fourth of July

TV: The Wire, Law & Order, Everyday People for HBO, The Jury, Oz, Boycott, The Corner, ER, Star Trek, The Next Generation, And the Band Played On, Roc, Fool’s Fire, Hamlet, A Doctor’s Story, Square One TV

Chad Coleman

Chad L. Coleman is best known for his stirring portrayal of Dennis “Cutty” Wise on HBO’s The Wire. But this highly seasoned veteran of stage, television, and film has an extensive resume that includes sharing the stage with Willem Dafoe, Robin Williams, and Mia Farrow. He’s guest starred on Numbers, Law & Order (SVU), Hack, and New York Undercover, to name a few. Chad is dedicated husband, father and man of faith who has given generously of his time to help his fellow man. He’s gone into schools and prisons to inspire young people, encouraged the brave children of the Special Olympics, and helped to raise scholarship funds for Future Scholars of Virginia, alongside Tim and Daphne Reid.

As a producer, he’s currently developing a documentary on five inner city kids of west Baltimore who are trying to beat the streets, to become Silver Glove Boxing Champions, and the ex-con who trains them. He is also working on an indie film starring along with Bokeem Woodbine, Lynn Whitfield and Clifton Powell.

Chad Coleman is appearing in a revival of August Wilson’s play Joe Turner’s Come and Gone on Broadway.

Jamie Hector

Jamie Hector began acting immediately after high school when he auditioned for a community theater company. He then enrolled in college while he continued to audition and book roles on New York Undercover, Third Watch, Law & Order, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Beat, and Oz. His film work dates back to Spike Lee’s Clockers. From there he went on to appear in He Got Game, Ghost Dog, Prison Song, and Everyday People. Hector attributes a defining moment in his career to the short film Five Deep Breaths directed by Seith Mann. With Hector in the lead role Five Deep Breaths was an Official Selection of the Cannes, Sundance, Tribeca, and IFP Film Festivals; it went on to accumulate 16 awards. David Simon, the creator of The Wire, cited Five Deep Breaths as the movie that brought Hector to his attention.

Hector is currently working in the film Blackout with Melvin Van Peebles and Jeffrey Wright, and featured as recurring villain Benjamin “Knox” Washington in the third season of Heroes. He is also featured in the 2008 film Max Payne, in which he plays the role of Lincoln DeNeuf, a Haitian crime boss.

In his spare time, Hector mentors children. He teaches them martial arts and drama, counsels them and checks whether they attend school.

Anthony Hemingway

In 2009, Hemingway again joined forces with David Simon and Nina Noble as Producer of the HBO television series TREME. Hemingway will serve as both producer and director on the series TREME, set in the famous New Orleans neighborhood of the same name in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Anthony M. Hemingway has been tapped by George Lucas to direct his long-awaited WWII action adventure, RED TAILS. Based on a story by Lucas, RED TAILS revolves around the young pilots who overcame racism in the military to form the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American fighter pilots in U.S. military history.

In 2006, Hemingway made his directorial debut on HBO’s highly acclaimed series, THE WIRE. Prior to that, he had been First Assistant Director on the award-winning series since it began filming in 2001. After gaining the trust of Executive Producers, David Simon and Nina Noble, Hemingway helped to collaborate on visual, story and production pallets for THE WIRE, and they considered Hemingway a trusted member of the creative circle.

Since his directorial debut, Hemingway has been in constant demand and has directed episodes of some of the hottest shows on both network and cable television. Those credits include HEROES, NBC; THE CLOSER, TNT; BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, SCI-FI; CRIMINAL MINDS, CBS; TELL ME YOU LOVE ME, HBO; CSI-MIAMI, CBS; SHARK, CBS; THE BLACK DONNELLYS, NBC; multiple episodes of THE WIRE, HBO; ER, NBC; CSI-NY, CBS and CLOSE TO HOME, CBS.

During his seven-year tenure as a First A.D., Hemingway has worked under Producers including Tom Fontana and Scott Rudin. He has had the privilege to work with critically acclaimed Directors including Jonathan Demme, Barry Levinson and Agnieszka Holland.

Hemingway’s credits have included THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, NEIL YOUNG: HEART OF GOLD, TAXI, THE FORGOTTEN, CHANGING LANES, JUWANNA MANN and HBO’s critically acclaimed series, THE CORNER and OZ.

Recently, Hemingway received an AFI Award for his creative contribution on THE WIRE. Hemingway earned a NAACP Image Award Nomination in 2009 for HEROES and in 2006 for CLOSE TO HOME. In 2005, Hemingway was honored with the Trailblazer Award at the North Carolina Cine Noir Film Festival. Prior to becoming a First A.D., his credits have included Executive Producer of two independent short films, RAWFISH and ALYSON’S CLOSET, which won the Morte Rosenfeld Award for Best Short at the Utah Film and Video Festival in 1999.

Hemingway currently resides in Los Angeles.

Clarke Johnson

In 1993, Clarke Johnson became part of the original cast of the television series Homicide: Life on the Street playing Detective Meldrick Lewis for all seven seasons and the reunion movie, as well as directing several episodes. Johnson regularly improvised during filming and made up his own jokes and dialogue; writer and producer James Yoshimura called Clarke the “king of the ad lib”. Though the ensemble nature of the show meant that Johnson always filled an important role in the series, he became an even larger presence after his character was paired with a new partner, Mike Kellerman (played by Reed Diamond). The two detectives became the central figures in a plot line surrounding a Baltimore drug lord whose financial resources and front as a devoted community servant made it nearly impossible for the police department to bring him up on charges. Johnson made the transition to director with the season four episode Map of the Heart. He also directed Betrayal, Valentine’s Day, Full Court Press and The Twenty Percent Solution.

Johnson’s work on The Wire reunited him with Simon. Johnson directed the pilot, second episode, fifth episode and series finale. He appeared as Gus Haynes, the fictional, principled city desk editor of the Baltimore Sun in the fifth and final season.

Johnson’s other directing credits include the big-screen releases The Sentinel (2006) and S.W.A.T. (2003), and episodes of Third Watch and The Shield as well as the HBO original production Boycott (2001), a project which he helmed and in which he also acted. He also directed the first episodes of Seasons 1 and 2 of the 2005 mini-series Sleeper Cell.

Wendell Pierce

Wendell Pierce was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and attended Benjamin Franklin High School. He starred in all five seasons of the HBO drama The Wire as Detective Bunk Moreland. He was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Support Actor in a Drama Series for the role in 2007.

He also played a crooked policeman on Third Watch named Conrad “Candyman” Jones. An interview with him is part of Spike Lee’s 2006 HBO documentary When the Levees Broke, regarding the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He also appeared in Spike Lee’s 1996 movie, Get on the Bus, and Forrest Whitaker’s Waiting to Exhale a year earlier. Pierce also appeared with Forrest Whitaker as an undertaker’s assistant in the 1991 film, “A Rage In Harlem” and had a small role in the 1998 film Bulworth.

Pierce is also in the 2003 film The Fighting Temptations as Reverend Lewis, and 2006 horror movie Stay Alive. He played Slick in the 2007 film Life Support; Slick is the HIV positive husband of the main character Ana (played by Queen Latifah). The film was co-written by Jim McKay, who has directed for The Wire, and was distributed by HBO. Pierce also had a role in the 1996 film Sleepers, playing Rizzo’s older brother Little Caesar. In addition Pierce played Secret Service Agent Richard Gill in the 1995 film Hackers.

In addition to his work with ReWired for Change, Pierce is helping to rebuild the flood-ravaged Pontchartrain Park neighborhood in New Orleans. The Pontchartrain Park project is at the core of a massive undertaking by the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority to acquire and sell 4,500 lots formerly occupied by Katrina-ravaged homes. The lots were purchased from residents by the state using money from Road Home, a hurricane-relief program. The state is now transferring ownership to NORA, which can sell to private developers or individuals.

Vince Peranio

Vince Peranio has been the production designer behind all of John Water’s movies from Hairspray on and he has worked with Barry Levinson on the TV show Homicide: Life on the Street and the film Liberty Heights. Mr. Peranio has also designed the critically acclaimed HBO series The Wire and The Corner. Some of Vince’s early work in production design was with Lee Bonner in many commercials that Bonner directed. Vince is also an accomplished fine artist. He has done many paintings and his largest project to date is the renovation of his multiple-rowhouse dwelling in the Fells Point area of Baltimore. Eyes was partially shot in Vince’s garden and home, which he shares with his wife, Dolores Deluxe.

Vince and Dolores hosted our first ReWired for Change event at their gardens.

Clarke Peters

Clarke Peters earned a Tony Award nomination for Best Book of a Musical for writing the revue Five Guys Named Moe. As an actor, he has appeared on Broadway in The Iceman Cometh (1999), which won him the Theatre World Award, and as shady lawyer Billy Flynn in the revival of Chicago in 2000 and 2003. His West End theatre credits include Blues in the Night, Porgy and Bess, The Witches of Eastwick, and Chicago.

In addition to his role as Detective Lester Freamon on The Wire, Peters starred in the HBO mini series The Corner, also written by David Simon, portraying a drug addict named Fat Curt, as well as the FX series Damages as Dave Pell. Both His screen credits also include Notting Hill, K-Pax, and Freedomland.

On 12 May 2009, it was announced that he would be appearing on Holby City from 14th July to August 11, playing recurring cancer patient Derek Newman, who also happens to be the father of nurse Donna Jackson.

When not on set, Peters is an avid horseback rider. Born in New York City, he now lives in London.

Andre Royo

Andre Royo was born in the Bronx, New York of African American and Cuban heritage. Royo has often been told by casting directors that he is “not black enough” or “not Latino enough” for certain parts.

Royo attended Mount Saint Michael Academy in The Bronx from 1982 – 1986 at the same time as Sean Combs.

He had a small role in John Singleton’s 2000 remake of the film Shaft. He had a brief appearance in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles as a soldier in a unit that was sent back in time. He has also had roles in Heroes and Kenan and Kel. Royo also played the role of a murderer in Season 4 of Criminal Minds playing a drug addicted homeless serial killer.

Most recently Andre appeared opposite Josh Hartnett in Austin Chick’s AUGUST.

On the film festival circuit Andre’s work in BIG BANK TAKE LITTLE BANK, received high praise at the American Black Film Festival and MEN WITHOUT JOBS premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.

Andre wrote his first short film ANDRE ROYO’S BIG SCENE, which in turn received praise at The Pan African Film Festival.

As a director/producer under his production company Dreamher Inc., Andre stepped into theaters with his first directorial project, IN THE LAST CAR, that went on to win the “Audience Award” at the downtown urban theater festival and was an official entry in the Hip-Hop theater festival.

Andre currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife and daughter.

David Simon

David Simon is a Baltimore-based author, journalist and writer-producer of television specializing in criminal justice and urban issues. Born in Washington, he came north to Baltimore after graduating from the University of Maryland to work as a police reporter at the Baltimore Sun. In 1988, after four years on the crime beat, he took a leave of absence from the newspaper to write Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets.

Published in 1991, the Edgar-award winning account of a year inside the Baltimore Police Department Homicide Unit became the basis for NBC’s HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREET, which was broadcast from 1993 to 1999. Simon worked as a writer, and later as a producer on the award-winning drama.

In 1993, Simon took a second leave from the Baltimore Sun to research and write, The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood. Published in 1997 and co-authored with Edward Burns, the true account of life in a West Baltimore community dominated by an open-air drug market was named a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times.

Simon then co-wrote and produced The Corner as a six-hour miniseries for HBO. That production, which aired in 2000, won an Emmy as the year’s best miniseries. Simon and David Mills also won the Emmy for best writing in a movie or miniseries. For his writing on NBC’s Homicide, Simon has won the WGA Award for best writing in an episodic drama, as well as the Humanitas Award in the same category.

Having left the Baltimore Sun in 1995, Simon continues to work as a freelance journalist and author, writing for publications as varied as the Washington Post, the New Republic and Details magazine.

Jim True-Frost

Jim True-Frost is most notable for his portrayal of Roland “Prez” Pryzbylewski for five seasons on the HBO program The Wire. He also appeared in an episode of David Simon’s Homicide: Life on the Street and the Law & Order episode “Quit Claim.”

True-Frost has been an ensemble member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago since 1989. Prior to that, he was a member of Remains Theater, co-founded by actor William L. Petersen (To Live and Die in L.A., CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), where he worked with such performers as Amy Morton, Gary Cole, and D. W. Moffett. True-Frost appeared in the film “Off the Map” with fellow Steppenwolf ensemble member Joan Allen, directed by Singles co-star Campbell Scott, Affliction, The Hudsucker Proxy, Singles, Normal Life and Far Harbor. He has performed on Broadway and as far away as Sierra Leone.

Jim graduated from New Trier High School in Winnetka, Illinois. When he married lawyer and legal scholar Cora Frost in 1999, both changed their last names to True-Frost. Jim and his wife now reside in Harvard Square Cambridge, MA.

True-Frost appeared in 2008 as Brutus in the American Repertory Theatre’s production of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, as well as Steppenwolf’s Broadway run of August: Osage County which won the Tony for Best Play.

Dominic West

Dominic West born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England and attended Eton College and Trinity College, Dublin. He made his debut in 1991 in a short called 3 Joes. His other screen appearances include True Blue, Chicago and Mona Lisa Smile. His most notable television role has been Baltimore police detective Jimmy McNulty on the HBO television police drama The Wire, for which West was praised for the accuracy of his character’s accent.

In film, he portrayed the heavy metal guitarist Kirk Cuddy in the 2001 film Rock Star. In 2007, he played the Spartan politician Theron in 300. West also starred in the 1999 film version of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream as Lysander.

As a theatre actor, West has appeared as Konstantin in the Peter Hall-directed The Seagull (1996) at the Old Vic. In 2005, he returned to the stage to play Orlando in David Lan’s As You Like It at the Wyndham’s Theatre in London. He played Edward in Harley Granville Barker’s The Voysey Inheritance directed by Peter Gill at the Royal National Theatre in 2006. In late 2006 and early 2007 he played the lead role of Jan in Tom Stoppard’s Rock ‘n’ Roll in London’s West End.

Dominic West appears in the role of Oliver Cromwell in the Channel 4 series The Devil’s Whore. West played the villain, Jigsaw, in the December 2008 film Punisher: War Zone. He makes an appearance on Eminem’s 2009 album Relapse on the opening track, as a doctor discharging Eminem from a rehab facility.

Michael K. Williams

Michael Williams was born in Brooklyn, New York. After getting in some trouble as a youth he enrolled at the National Black Theatre in New York City. He later got a job at a pharmaceutical company but left after he felt the job was not cut out for his destiny. Inspired by Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814, he left school and quit his job against the wishes of his family to pursue a career as a dancer. During a year in which he was intermittently homeless, Williams “pounded the pavement,” visiting record labels and dance studios looking for work. He eventually got a job as a background dancer on a music tour, which led to more work appearing as a dancer in videos and on tours, as well as some modeling work.

On his 25th birthday, just days after appearing in an ad campaign, Williams got into a confrontation in Queens, in which an adversary cut his face and neck with a razor. One cut came close to his jugular vein and nearly killed him.

According to Williams, the scar helped to launch his acting career. Within months of the incident, photographers were stopping him on the street, asking him to pose. He began getting more calls to do music videos, which led to some minor work playing a thug in TV shows. In 1994 he appeared in the music video for Madonna’s song “Secret” and in 1996 he appeared in Tupac Shakur’s crime drama Bullet.

In 1997 he made an appearance on Law & Order (he appeared again in 2001), and in 2001 on The Sopranos. He is best known for his portrayal of Omar Little in The Wire.