Photo Credit: Travis Tanner
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Gabrielle Dennis knew she wanted to be an actress at an early age. After graduating high school, Dennis went on to earn a degree in theater from the legendary Howard University. Her first break was in the form of a 1990 TV movie with Olivia Newton John titled “A Mom for Christmas.” She then landed a hosting gig on BET’s groundbreaking teen talk show “Teen Summit.” When “Teen Summit” ended, she went on to appear in a number of films and TV shows including “My Name Is Earl” and Bring It On: Fight to the Finish.
Gabrielle’s big break came in 2008 when she landed a coveted role on the hit CW (and now BET) series “The Game.” Her role as Janay on the series helped open doors for Dennis as she’s gone on to work on such projects as the movie The Marc Pease Experience with Hollywood A-Lister, Ben Stiller, and even be nominated for Best Ensemble at the 2013 NAACP Theater Awards for her turn in the hit play The Cell Block, in which she gave a chilling performance as a male-to-female transgendered person.
Currently, Gabrielle can be seen in the romantic comedy Black Coffee, written and directed by Chicago’s Mark Harris (I Used To Love Her, Black Butterfly). She recently sat down with ro to tell us a little about the movie and her character, Morgan.
Tell us about your character.
Morgan is a young entrepreneur trying take her career as a lawyer to the next level and she is searching for true peace in her life because her current love and financial situation have been more than trying. What drew you to this particular role?
Anytime I get to represent a smart and goal oriented woman I’m there. Plus I love the fact that she is faced with a major choice in her life and I think most audiences will relate. We all have had, will have, or are currently faced with a major life decision and hopefully the character (and film) will inspire someone to surrender to the choice that will make them most happy.
Give us your take on the importance of supporting black films?
The fact that the term “black films” exists pretty much explains the problem; if there’s no support of the art form the art form dies. If the audience who wants to see “black films” isn’t out supporting it, then who will? The more “black films” are supported the more options of the type of “black films” become available to those who enjoy them…because not just black people enjoy watching “black films” so the more the art form grows eventually our “black films” will just be…well, films.
How do you normally prepare for a role? Did you do anything special to prepare for playing Morgan?
Nothing special, my process is typically the same with all my movies and that’s to do the work I was hired to do. Read my script, breakdown my script, understand my character, and be prepared when I show up. Preparation is extremely key especially on a smaller budget project because shooting time is usually more limited so you need to get the job done and get it done fast lol
Who was the practical joker or silliest member of the cast?
Hhmm hard to say who on the overall cast since most of my scenes were only with Darrin so not sure how crazy everyone else was on days I wasn’t working but if I had to take a guess on any practical jokers I would probably guess Christian or Richard who both are the comedic relief in the film. Darrin and I, although funny, were complete professionals lol
Tell us about you experience working with director Mark Harris.
Mark is one of the most warm and kind directors I’ve probably ever worked with. A true gentleman who is very passionate about his work.
Any fun facts you want people know about you?
I’m a Libra, I hate long walks on the beach or anywhere that requires my feet getting dirty, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink heavily, but I do serve a fierce Tina Turner at Karaoke 😉
How can people reach you and keep up with all that you have going on?
Follow me on social media for updates about the film, release info on other projects (like my upcoming action film Call Me King), and upcoming stand up shows in the Los Angeles area. (Twitter: @GabrielleDennis, Facebook: Gabrielle Dennis, IG: Gabrielle_Dennis)
Black Coffee stars Darrin Dewitt Henson, Lamman Rucker, Erica Hubbard, Gabrielle Dennis, and Christian Keyes. The film is currently playing at AMC Theaters in select cities, including Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. For a more information, please visit the AMC Theater website for dates and times.
– tj armour / @tjarmour