LOOKING ON: Vanna Girod rehearses under the direction of Sullivan Walker.

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SULLIVAN WALKER'S PLANS FOR FILM

By Wayne Bowman wayne.bowman@trinidadexpress.com

Trinidad-born actor Sullivan Walker who enjoys a relatively successful career in the US is back home, "for about a year or more". He told the Express he is here to give back to the island that helped nurture his talents and to help young people wanting to get into theatre, film or television on their skills towards that end.

To start this process Walker will on May 27 premiere a production titled Caribbean Woman at the Hilton Trinidad, St Ann's. Walker said the production is in the form of a choreopoem, combining dance and poetry and is based on his book, Caribbean Woman, published about two years ago.

When the Express sat with Walker he was going over lines with some of the actresses being featured in the production who will explore women's issues and the challenges of Caribbean life in general. All the modules in the production were written by Walker who is also producing and directing.

"This production and others that will follow in the coming months are all part of my celebrating fifty years in entertainment, film, television, theatre and literature. I want to give back for all that I learned here. I am setting up a production company to produce commercially viable films and to work with young actors as well as to create employment. I am already working on a film about my life and a television series set in Tobago titled A Season In Tobago. There are other projects in the works," Walker said.

Walker said there are not enough films or other visual and literary forms of information on the Trinidad and Tobago experience in the US. He said there is a lot of information on Jamaica because that island has a more developed film industry. He is therefore seeking to help develop an industry here. Walker said he knows there is a lot of comedy-type theatre here and shows run regularly for three or four days at a time, but this is not enough.

"There needs to be a season of theatre in Trinidad where the tourist can come here expecting to experience more than Carnival. We go up to New York for Broadway productions all the time, why not have them come here to see our theatre. There is so much talent here and a lot of skilled producers and directors, but no financing. The Ministry of Culture should put money into local theatre. The Hilton should have a resident theatre," Walker said.

Almost as though echoing the sentiments of three filmmakers from various Caribbean islands who were here recently to adjudicate local films vying for assistance from the Trinidad and Tobago Film Company, Walker said it is time for Trinidad to create its own Bollywood. The visiting filmmakers called for the region to unite and form one mega film industry just as Bollywood, Nollywood and Hollywood.

"We need to create our own Bollywood here and let the tourists come here for theatre and let the world know us for more than just Carnival. As a developing nation we can use film and theatre to assist us in resolving some of the issues we are facing. I am hoping to take this coming show across Trinidad and Tobago then to New York, Washington and Miami to start with. As I said there is so much raw talent here and another thing I am doing is hosting workshops. There will be a five-week series of workshops here at the Hilton in June," Walker said.

Although he still possesses his trademark baritone, Walker needed assistance to get from the couch in which he was seated to another seat. One of his eyes also seemed to be slightly irregular. Asked about his health, Sullivan declined comment saying he wanted to focus on the work he has set out to do here and nothing more.

Walker originally comes from Laventille and also lived in San Fernando. Back in the 1960s he competed in the Scouting for Talent series placing third in the final. The prize was at trip to the US, which Walker took and never returned, but remained in the US studying acting and working in theatre, television and the film industry.

He was a regular on The Cosby Show during the 1980s portraying Heathcliff Huxtable's Trinidadian friend, Dr James Harmon. He has also appeared in the sitcoms, The Jamie Foxx Show and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. His movie credits include Get Rich or Die Trying with 50 Cent, Crocodile Dundee, The Exterminator, The Firm and The Sentinel. He was a main character in the series titled, Where I Live with Doug E Doug and Flex Alexander.

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