Chicago native Sharif Atkins in 'Preacher's Kid'

January 29, 2010 9:33:40 AM PST
Sharif Atkins might not be a household name yet, but you surely know the face! Sharif is a regular on the new "White Collar" series on the USA network, and his other TV credits include "ER," "4400," "CSI: Miami," "Cold Case," "Eve," "Criminal Minds," "Hawaii", "Early Edition." He appeared in the film "Light It Up" that starred Usher, Rosario Dawson and Forest Whitaker. Before to moving to California nine years ago, Sharif, who grew up in Hyde Park and Chatham, graduated from Northwestern University and did local theatre at Victory Gardens and Steppenwolf.Now, Sharif has his first major acting role in "Preacher's Kid." The new movie www.preacherskidmovie.com re-tells the timeless parable of the '"Prodigal Son'" in a 21st century urban setting. Atkins is the love interest to Capitol Records artist and former Destiny's Child singer, LeToya Luckett. She plays "Angie King," a 20-something daughter of a minister who dreams of fame and strikes out on her own by joining a traveling Gospel show. She soon discovers, though, that life on the road is tough; but even more, she fears going home with nothing to show for herself, or worse, to a father who might no longer love her. Sharif plays Wynton, the talented choir director in "Preacher's Kid, " who often works with Angie to get the hymns right for Sunday service and preps the church choir for a competition in New York. He also carries a torch for Angie and ultimately defends her honor.

"This film says it's ok to branch out, but understand that you can always comeback to those who love you; you have a safe haven, Sharif says. "Everybody needs a place where they can recharge and lick their wounds." We are all searching for our passion, Shariff adds. "I think this film has a great message especially for the youth, but for anyone who is thinking of pursuing a dream."

Written and directed by Stan Foster, whose credits include helming Bishop T.D. Jakes' Woman, Thou Art Loosed major motion picture, "Preacher's Kid" also stars current Grammy nominee, Trey Songz; R&B singer/producer, "Tank" Babbs; Gregalan Williams (who played Coach 'Doc' Hines in "Remember the Titans" with Denzel Washington; Essence Atkins (soon to be seen in "Are We There Yet" on TBS); and Kierra "KiKi" Sheard, EMI Gospel recording artist. Original songs and music were written, composed and produced by Tim Miner.

"Preacher's Kid" debuts this weekend in Chicago and across the country. Sharif is back home (on his birthday) for a premiere showing to benefit Christ Universal Temple on Friday, January 29. The special showing is at 7pm at the Chatham ICE Theaters, 210 W. 87th St., Chicago. Ticket cost $20 for the movie and refreshments. Tickets are $20, which also includes refreshment (popcorn and a drink). You can pay at the door or in advance by credit card by calling Walter Robinson at 773-568-2282. Proceeds will help fund a program at Christ Universal Church called "Project Achieve," a ten-day tour of Historically Black Colleges in the spring. "Preacher's Kid' will be shown at the Chatham ICE Theaters for two weeks; a portion of all ticket sales will be contributed to the church.

The movie also opens this weekend in 33 cities including: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit, Washington, DC and Orlando. For list of local theaters, visit http://www.preacherskidmovie.com/theater.php.

SHARIF ATKINS IN "PREACHER'S KID"
Premiere benefits Christ Universal Temple
Tonight (Friday, Jan. 29) at 7 pm
Chatham ICE Theaters
210 W. 87th St., Chicago
Tickets are $20
773.568-2282

MORE ABOUT SHARIF ATKINS

Sharif Atkins performs a leading role in the upcoming Warner Brothers feature "Preacher's Kid." On television, he's a regular on the USA cable hit show "White Collar" and also stars in the romantic comedy series "My Manny" for TBS and TBS.Com. Born in Pittsburgh, Shariff grew up in Hyde Park and Chatham neighborhoods; he attended the McDade Classical School and Whitney Young High School. His father David is a Judge in the Circuit Court of Cook County and his mother, Jackie is a long time lawyer, now an ordained minister. His sister is an engineer living in St. Louis with her family.

After graduating from Northwestern University, Sharif began his career in Chicago theater but he is best know for his successful five year stint playing the role of Michael Gallant on "ER" which came to a dramatic end when his character was killed in the line of duty in Iraq. Sharif next starred in the NBC series "Hawaii," then spent two seasons playing Gary Navarro, the hearer of thoughts on USA networks hit series "The 4400," while recurring in a romantic arc with music, film and television star "Eve" on her series by the same name.

He has starred in independent films including "All Nighter," "Paved with Good Intentions" and "Out of Exile. Sharif was given his earliest break in the business by producer John Wells, ("ER" and "West Wing") who cast him in his first leading role in the TNT movie "The Big Time." His most recent roles include numerous guest starring appearances on a variety of well known television series including, "CSI: Miami" (CBS), "Criminal Minds" (CBS), "Cold Case" (CBS), "Raising the Bar" (TNT), a recurring role on "Numbers" (CBS), and earlier appearances on "In Justice" (ABC), "ARLI$$" (HBO), and the "District" (CBS).

Sharif, who now resides in Los Angeles, celebrates his birthday on January 29.

MORE ABOUT "PREACHER'S KID" AND THE CAST

THE STORY

Tired of being a preacher's daughter and longing to experience more of life, 20-something Angie King (LeToya Luckett) strikes out on her own for the very first time and joins a traveling gospel show. In this modern-day rendition of the fable of The Prodigal Son, she soon discovers life on the road is tough but fears going home with nothing to show or worse, to a father who no longer loves her.

The story revolves around the central character of Angie, who is a beautiful, but innocent, 23 year old woman. She is the daughter of a well-respected pastor, (Gregalan Williams) who is the pillar of the small, family-like community within Augusta, Georgia, where she has grown up her entire life. As the only woman in her father's life (her mother passed when she was a little girl), she tends to all of her father's needs: she takes care of her father's asthma, goes to church service three times a week, carries out missions for the church, and sings in the church choir.

Her whole life revolves around the church and her father. She has yet to experience life for herself, and frankly, she feels that life is passing her by. One day, a traveling, gospel-musical-play swoops into town and after sneaking out of the house to see the play, she gets mesmerized by the male lead of the show, Devlin (Durrell "Tank" Babbs ), who is a smooth-talking, soulful-singing, ex-R&B, heartthrob, who inspires her to want to join the traveling road show. After an impromptu audition, where she sings her heart out for the promoter of the musical, she is offered an opportunity to become an understudy for the female lead role.

Against her father's wishes, she joins the show, leaving behind her life of security, friendship, and fatherly love, to explore the world and experience life as a young woman. She is romanced and seduced by Devlin and begins to see the world outside of Georgia. Just as she falls in love with the smooth talking Devlin and loses her female innocence, things suddenly take a turn for the worst. He starts to abuse her both physically and mentally. She finds out that many of the other women in the play are not her friends at all and most importantly, she begins to doubt her own self-worth.

With the realization that she has abandoned her true friends back in Georgia and her only family, her father, she has no where and no one to turn to. She is forced to fall deeper and deeper into the abyss and loses her sense of purpose and more importantly, her faith. Her two best friends (Sharif Atkins and Essence Atkins), who are concerned for her well-being, make an unannounced visit, to show that they still love and care for her and to let her know that she does have a life and a place to go where people still love and care for her. Although, she knows they are true friends, her pride and stubbornness will not let her go back with her tail between her legs. This only makes things worse for her, as she pressures the promoter to give her a shot at stardom, so that she can prove that she is worthy to everyone. Unfortunately, she ends up in a fight with the promoter who hired her and her services are immediately terminated.

After she gets fired from the play, she embarrasses herself and finds herself lost in this world of spiritual and emotional treachery, the realization hits her that she has to go home. The question is: will she find forgiveness and redemption or condemnation from her friends and most importantly? from her beloved father?

LeToya Luckett

Part of the original lineup of the superstar group Destiny's Child, LeToya Luckett, didn't just sit around after she left the group shortly after the release of 1999's The Writing's on the Wall. She started up another group with other former member Latavia Roberson, Anjel, which dissolved before a record ever came out, opened up an upscale boutique in her hometown of Houston, TX, and lived briefly in Los Angeles, where she signed to Capitol in 2003. Her first promotional single, "U Got What I Need," was released in 2004, followed the next year by "All Eyes on Me". In the spring of 2006, "Torn" hit radios, eventually reaching number two on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and last July her self-titled debut -- which contained all of the singles she had previously released -- finally came out. Her second album, Lady Love, followed in August 2009, featuring collaborations with Ryan Leslie, Ne-Yo, and Estelle. This month, look for LeToya in Warner Premiere/Gener8Xion Entertainment's Preacher's Kid. She plays "Angie King", a 20-something daughter of minister who, "longing to experience more of life -- and with dreams of fame and fortune in her mind -- she strikes out on her own for the very first time, joining a traveling gospel show. She soon discovers, though, that life on the road is tough; but even more, she fears going home with nothing to show for herself, or worse, to a father who might no longer love her."

Durrell "Tank" Babbs

After spending years working on his debut album, "Force of Nature" was released in 2001, led by the Billboard Top 10 R&B ballad, "Maybe I Deserve." The album went gold in the U.S. and has moved more than 655,000 copies. Since then, he has released two more albums, but has found most of his success as a producer, songwriter and musician. He has contributed hits to numerous R&B artists, including Donell Jones, Aaliyah, Marques Houston, Monica, Joe, Kelly Rowland, Chris Brown, Jamie Foxx and others. In 2007, he formed a super group called TGT with fellow crooners Tyrese and Ginuwine. Now Tank plays Devlin Mitchell, a troubled young man who is a bona fide player and abuser in relationships, but a forced to be reckoned with in the traveling Gospel show.

Clifton Powell

Clifton Powell, a native New Yorker, is a stellar actor. He has been in numerous films and television programs. In addition to several films and television programs, he also serves as a voice actor for the computer game, "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," playing Big Smoke. He has won several NAACP Awards. Some of Powell's films include "Next Friday," "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" "Rush Hour," "Ray," and "Never Die Alone." In "Preacher's Kid," Clifton plays Ike, the hard-nosed Stage Manager for the traveling gospel play, who shows kindness and shares wisdom with Angie while on the road.

Essence Atkins

Essence Atkins has appeared on television shows "The Cosby Show" and the WB's "Smart Guy." She's also known for her role on the defunct UPN show, "Half and Half". Some of her movie credits include "How High" and "Deliver Us from Eva". She began appearing onscreen in the late '80s, with small appearances on shows such as "Saved by the Bell" and "The Cosby Show". She would go on to land a series of starring roles on short-lived series throughout the '90s like "Under One Roof" and "Smart Guy" before finding success with a starring role on the comedy series "Half and Half". After the show ended its run, Atkins made a number of appearances in movies like "Love for Sale" and "Dance Flick." She has been cast in the new TBS show "Are We There Yet". This month, she plays the hilarious role of Peaches in "Preacher's Kid." She befriends Angie and supports her through Angie's trials and tribulations as she comes of age.

Trey Songz

Since making his recording debut in 2005 (he signed to Atlantic Records in 2003), current Grammy-nominated Trey Songz has patiently and artfully crafted some of the most acclaimed and compelling R&B music of the decade. Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun hails him as one of "the most promising R&B artists we have had since we started the company 60 years ago." In 2009, Trey released his current album, Ready. Raised as a military brat, his family eventually settled in Petersburg, Virginia. In his youth, he only began singing because his mother encouraged him to. After high school and honing his craft, he met a producer (Troy Taylor), where he developed his vocal, writing, and production skills. He is now acting and landed the role of Monte in "Preacher's Kid."

Gregalan Williams

One of Williams' most well-known roles is that of Garner Ellerbee in the syndicated series "Baywatch." Born in Iowa, Williams attended college and served in the United States Marine Corps before pursuing a career in acting. Gregalan made his acting debut in the 1988 film "Above the Law." The next year, Williams won the role of Garner Ellerbee in "Baywatch." After leaving the series in 1998, Williams has had recurring guest roles on "The Sopranos," "The West Wing," "The District," "The Game," "Army Wives," and "Drop Dead Diva." He also has appeared in episodes of "NYPD Blue," "Boston Legal," "One Tree Hill," and "Meet the Browns." Williams has also had roles in several films including "Remember the Titans," "Old School," "Be Cool," "Dog Days of Summer," "W.", and "The Collector." In "Preacher's Kid," he plays the role of "Bishop King", Senior Pastor and father to LeToya Luckett's character.

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