Hazelle Goodman is a Trinidadian who has done good. The 30-something-year-old actress and her humour premiered on the world-famous cable channel HBO (Home Box Office) at prime time in September last year. Since then Hazelle! has become a household name in black comedy in the US, the Caribbean and everywhere the channel is viewed.
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In the manner of movies, i.e. how stars are born, an executive producer came to Cami Hall in New York one night. When he had finished laughing and applauding Hazelle's routine, he asked her to tape it as an HBO special. A few weeks later, her offbeat routine was aired to millions of viewers across the globe. In her home country, those who saw it still remember the subtle power of the sister's presence Vavushka enters atop two brawny backs to a wildly cheering audience. She dismisses her slaves with a flick of her whip on their behinds.
Silence, a bust without a body, is the only woman Vavushka trusts. Picking it up, the audacious Viking sashays off the stage. But not before she sets the stage for the cutting-edge characters of Hazelle West Indian Minnie escapes from her likkle hurricane island to the Land of the Free, eager to get to the top, top, top.
Hazelle, said The New York Times, is "a powerful actress". Essence magazine, theVibe and Vogue gave her the thumbs up, way way up. Hazelle Goodman, one publication said, is the next Whoopi Goldberg. Whoopi or not, HBO has offered a TV deal and Hazelle will have her own sitcom on CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) by fall. And soon, the Hazelle Comedy Hour will be going into distribution across the US.
And - drum roll, please - the Caribbean native has acted with Al Pacino. Yes, they actually had a scene together and get this, he touched her. In Heat, Hazelle flew to Los Angeles to act alongside "The Godfather", one of Hollywood's most infamous figures. It didn't hit her, however, until shooting was over.
Hazelle, now in the peak of womanhood - "it's lasting a while, darling" - left Trinidad for Brooklyn at age eight. She majored in drama at the City College in Harlem, graduating cum laude.
In the tradition of Alice Walker, Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Jay California Cooper, Hazelle writes boldly, strongly, and with great humour. "Dark and Lovely", her first piece, was about the rejection she experienced being dark-skinned in America.
It took 10 years of shows, and reworking her drama repertoire of human issues, to reach HBO. In that time she took temporary jobs in word processing. "But there comes a time when you can't hold on to anything else. You take the plunge. Because once you're getting money from a job, you begin holding on and giving more to it.
"I feel extremely proud to be coming from Trinidad to be an inspiration for our people. No matter what you do, if you're a mother, a teacher it's about letting our people know dreams do come true."
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