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Akeelah and the Bee in our magazines

THE MOVIE: Akeelah and the Bee

Angela Bassett • Laurence Fishburne • Keke Palmer
DIRECTOR: Doug Atchison

Dr Larabee (Laurence Fishburne) and Akeelah (Keke Palmer) THE CONCEPT:
Akeelah Anderson (Palmer) is an 11 year old from South Los Angeles who has a gift for words. Despite the objections of her mother, Tanya (Bassett), Akeelah secretly enters various spelling contests, being tutored by the forthright Dr Larabee (Fishburne), winning a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee

U.S. RELEASE: April 29 2006, Nationwide • Rated: PG


ANGELA BASSETT on re-teaming with Laurence Fishburne, after both were nominated for Oscars in 1994 for their performances as Ike and Tina Turner is What’s Love Got To Do With It?:
“We would run into each other from then to now, when he wasn’t off doing Morpheus (The Matrix) in some exotic locale. (she laughs) But it was great (working together again), there’s that twinkle that’s in your eye because you know you’ve got chemistry with this person. You’ve got history with this person, you have the experience. I’m proud of this project, and I think it’s a great story to tell. It may not be a two-hander like that, but we’re here together and it’s something good.”

“I think it was a good thing that we haven’t acted together since then. We got a lot of attention, both of us, for those performances, and I think it was really important for the two of us to go off and do our own thing individually. It’s a given that when we come together good things are going to happen. So what was nice about Akeelah and the Bee is that it kind of reminded us of that, and I think now would be a good time for us to start looking for things to do together, because there’s been such a considerable amount of time since What’s Love and enough time that people won’t come to this movie with that kind of expectation, because there is no way we can actually repeat that.”

“Because both Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne are such great actors, it was easy for me to go right into my role and feed off of their energy. My relationship with Laurence was like a teacher/student relationship. He’s the opposite of Dr Larabee. We had so much fun on the set. He joked liked me.”

“Keke carries the movie, it’s her movie, make so mistake about it. This movie is called Akeelah and the Bee and it’s all about that little girl. And Keke is an extraordinary talent, she has intelligence, intuition, she has this gift that I was reminded of myself when watching her and working with her, I imagine that my talent was kind of like hers when I was young.”

“In the movie I could see some similarities to my life, remembering my own childhood, my own mom and how tough she was on me at times, the challenges she faced as a single mom and just trying to balance it.”

“I’m a little good at spelling, but not as good as Akeelah is. I know what the words mean but I’m never going to go up to somebody and say, ‘I love the prestidigitation of the magician!’”

Written by Judy Sloane. Back to top

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Images above © Lions Gate
Feature © 2006 Visual Imagination.
Not for reproduction.

Film Review, #670, June 2006 cover

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