After 20 years of acting, Leonard Dozier, of Egg Harbor City, took a chance and accepted a role in a film featuring African producers, writers and actors.
A Nigerian movie, spoken in English, titled "Turning Point," turned into the most-ac-claimed film project of Dozier's career. The picture was nominated for eight and won four awards during an event touted as the African Oscars, held Sept. 14 at the Warner Theatre in Washington, D.C.
"It was very different for me. Because of the blend of American actors and Nigerian-American actors, you had this cross-cultural blend on the set that was quite interesting," said Dozier, 34. "Literally, I would be on set one day with Todd Bridges or Ernie Hudson, and then, my scenes were actually with Jackie Appiah, who actually picked up the best actress award. ... She's from Ghana and is a very noted Nigerian-American actress.
A drama, the plot of "Turning Point" concerns a Nigerian-American playboy, who deals with the consequences after abandoning his American sweetheart for an arranged wife from back home.
Bridges, 48, is most famous for being a child star on the 1970s TV sitcom "Diff'rent Stokes." Hudson, 67, starred in the movies "Ghostbusters," "The Hand That Rocks the Cradle," "The Crow" and the now defunct "Oz" TV series. Actress K.D. Aubert, 34, also is in the film and won the African Oscar best supporting actress award for her work in the movie. She appeared in the films "In the Mix," "Soul Plane," "Hollywood Homicide" and "Friday After Next."
In the film, Dozier plays the scene-stealing, Nigerian-American hustler known as Dollar Rain. He had to employ a Nigerian accent to play the role, which he landed after two sets of auditions.
The movie was partially shot in October 2011 in Newark, Del. Dozier filmed his scenes there. The picture also was shot in New York City and Nigeria.
Dozier did not know the African Oscars existed. The official name of the award ceremony is the Nollywood & African Film Critics Awards. Even though Dozier was not nominated, he decided to attend the awards ceremony to support his co-stars.
"I thought that the important thing was to be a part of something like that, to witness it. It was great to be in the midst of people like 50 Cent, who was there, and some of the cast of the film," Dozier said. "Obviously, it was an award ceremony that celebrated African film, much of which is very foreign to me. I felt the experience would be worth it."
"Turning Point" won four awards: best actor and actress in a leading role diaspora film; best actress in supporting role diaspora film; and best sound.
Dozier also was a part of another award-winning project. "Fever: 1793" won best documentary and best musical composition/ar-rangement during the Mid-Atlantic Emmy Awards, which also were held earlier this month. "Fever: 1793" was about the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 in Philadelphia. Dozier portrayed the real-life character of Richard Allen, who in 1816 founded the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the first independent black denomination in America.
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