Laz Alonso, Cadillac, American Airlines, Conduct ‘Learn It Live’ at American Black Film Festival

Laz Alonso, Cadillac, American Airlines, Conduct 'Learn It Live' at American Black Film Festival
Actor Laz Alonso talks with the audience as rolling out publisher Munson Steed looks on.

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Laz Alonso held the Ritz-Carlton hotel audience spellbound as he waxed poetic on his life under the lights. He interwove personal anecdotes with invaluable acting advice during the Cadillac-sponsored “Learn It Live” event at the 15th annual American Black Film Festival.

Also sponsored by American Airlines and, the premiere urban travel website, Alonso regaled the standing-room crowd with how he circumnavigated his way from Wall Street operator on the East Coast to Hollywood hunk on the West.

Taking his directional cues from moderator Munson Steed, the publisher of rolling out and, the star of Jumping the Broom and Avatar explained to the swelled gathering of filmmakers, producers and aspiring actors his plan to become a thespian while an undergrad at HBCU-stalwart Howard University. And Alonso executed it by stockpiling his chips while mixing it up on the New York Stock Exchange before starting his marketing company.

Laz Alonso, Cadillac, American Airlines, Conduct 'Learn It Live' at American Black Film Festival
Filmmakers and actors packed the Ritz-Carlton to hear Laz Alonso.

“Advice that I always give to aspiring actors: Save your money,” he said. “By working on Wall Street and starting my business, I was able to save up enough to where I could solely work on my dreams of becoming an actor. Some very talented people had to leave L.A. because they simply did not have enough money to stay.”

It was actually the confluence of mutually agreeable entities when Alonso and Cadillac teamed up. After a brief dry patch, Cadillac has captured the imagination of a new generation of urban sophisticates, particularly the young, hip and affluent. The Escalade has been the favorite SUV of urban entertainers for the past 15 years or so, and the CTS-V Coupe so dazzled the dashing actor that he requested to get one on loan. Alonso also spent about two hours signing autographs inside the Cadillac Lounge for his fans at the Ritz that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.

Laz Alonso, Cadillac, American Airlines, Conduct 'Learn It Live' at American Black Film Festival
Alonso signs an autograph for media maven Florence Anthony in the Cadillac Lounge.

Some of Alonso’s other thoughts during the “Learn It Live“ event:

On working with Spike Lee on The Miracle at St. Anna: “I’ve learned from every director I’ve worked with. I love working with directors that I’ve admired my entire life. What Spike Lee taught me is come prepared. On the set, he will let the actors run. He will not hold his actor’s hand. And if you are prepared, then he will let you do whatever it is that you want. And he’s very, very specific during rehearsals. He’s one of the fastest directors I’ve ever worked with. Spike gets all of his shots in within the time frame allotted. At the end of an eight-hour day, he is in his van going back to the hotel. And we appreciated that. Spike shaped what filmmaking and movies are for me when I was as a child.”

On being a role model: “A lot of actors and entertainers don’t like the fact that they are role models. I do not believe that being a role model means that you don’t make mistakes. We are human beings, and we will make mistakes and have made mistakes. One thing we are responsible for is ourselves and who we represent to the people at large.”

terry shropshire

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