If The Talking Drum Was a Movie, Here’s Who Would Star

The glitz, glamor, and excitement of yesterday’s 92nd Oscars ceremony has me thinking about the movie version of The Talking Drum: who would produce, who I would cast, who would direct. For starters, there’s no question that I would have Ava DuVernay produce and direct the film. For her work on Selma, she became the first black woman to be nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director, and also the first black female director to her film nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. In 2017, she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for her film, 13.

For the role of Kwamé , the militant Vietnam Veteran and the unofficial mayor of the black neighborhood where most of The Talking Drum takes place, I would choose someone who I’ve known since childhood that’s become a highly successful actor. Michael Jai White is the first African American to portray a major comic book superhero in a major motion picture, having starred as Al Simmons, the protagonist in the 1997 film Spawn. He appeared as Marcus Williams in the Tyler Perry films, Why Did I Get Married? And Why Did I Get Married Too? And started as the character on the TBS/OWN comedy-drama television series, Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse. I recently told Michael about my novel and he’s very excited for me. He told me he’ll do everything he can to promote it. So, Michael, you’ll be hearing form me!

I can’t say enough about the performance of Mahershala Ali in Green Book. I enjoyed him so much, his co-star and the movie in general that I’ve seen it more than once. The role of Omar, my African drummer who is originally from Senegal and comes to America with hopes of becoming the drumming ambassador of the world, would be a perfect fit for Mahershala. He gives nuanced performances and has a great ability to show a wide range of emotions. I only discovered him recently, but understand that he’s been acting since 2001.


For the role of Malachi, the husband of one of my main characters, Sydney, I would choose Michael B. Jordan. I loved Michael’s performance as an outlaw in Black Panther. I think that he would be able to express the sensitivity needed for the role of Malachi.

In the role of Sydney, I would choose Beyoncé. One of the world’s best-selling music artists, having sold more than 100 million records worldwide, Beyoncé has also had some acting experience. In 2006, she starred in two films: The Pink Panther, which spawned the since, “Check on it,” and the musical drama Dreamgirls, which earned her a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress nomination. Her myriad roles in music videos would also help her to bring gravitas to the role of Sydney.


In the role of Della, the long-suffering girlfriend of activist and Vietnam Vet Kwamé, I would like to see Jill Scott cast. She is a singer-songwriter, model, poet, and actress known mostly for her singing career—her 2000 debut, Who Is Jill Scott, is unforgettable—but she is an excellent actress. She made her cinematic debut in the films Hounddog and Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married in 2007. She also appeared as the lead role in the BBC/HBO series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and the second wife of James Brown in the movie Get on Up.

In the role of Uncle Mustapha, the activist restaurant owner who mobilizes the community to protest against the eminent domain plans, I’d like Keith David. Not only is he an actor, but a prolific voice actor and singer. He is well-known for his work as “King” in Platoon and “Childs” in The Thing. He has acted in mainstream films, such as Crash, There’s Something About Mary, Barbershop, and Men at Work. Recently I’ve enjoyed him in the role of Bishop James Greenleaf on Greenleaf, a program on the Oprah Winfrey Network.

I am sure that with this star-studded cast and exceptional director, The Talking Drum movie version, (Rated-PG) would be up for at least one Oscar!

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Lisa Braxton

Lisa Braxton is an Emmy-nominated former television journalist, an essayist, short story writer, and novelist. Her debut novel, The Talking Drum, is forthcoming from Inanna Publications in spring 2020. She is a fellow of the Kimbilio Fiction Writers Program and a book reviewer for 2040 Review. Her stories and essays have appeared in literary magazines and journals. She received Honorable Mention in Writer’s Digest magazine’s 84th and 86th annual writing contests in the inspirational essay category. Her website: www.lisabraxton.com

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