|Who is it?||Actor, Director, Writer|
|Birth Day||April 11, 1949|
|Birth Place||Richmond, California, United States|
|Age||71 YEARS OLD|
|Occupation||Film director, television director, actor, screenwriter, producer|
Set in Los Angeles in the end of the 1940s, the story follows an African-American private detective and his often challenging career. The film’s biggest contribution was its recreation of South Central Los Angeles, in a time when the neighborhood was at its peak of historical relevance. His portrayal of the area touched on a piece of time often overlooked, and reminded audiences of the community values of Los Angeles, and especially hit home for many African-American viewers, who appreciated the insight into the family values that define their culture. Reviews for the film varied, with many praising Franklin’s directing more than the film itself.
Good timing found Franklin in the center of the famous political demonstrations at Berkeley in the 1960s. While the entire movement was impossible to ignore, Franklin did not actively participate and chose rather to observe his surroundings. Describing the scene, Franklin told the LA Times: "It was like a dream to me, I wasn't really sophisticated enough to join a particular movement." However, it has been noted that the Black Power movement in particular caught his eye.
With experience under his belt on the off-Broadway circuit, Franklin began his on-screen career with a film called Five on the Black Hand Side in 1973. From there, he acted in a string of guest roles on television shows such as The Rockford Files, Good Times, Caribe, The Incredible Hulk, McClain's Law, and The Streets of San Francisco. Over the years, Franklin’s looks have typically landed him roles portraying men of power, such as members of the police force or military officials. Franklin’s most recognizable acting role was his 1983-1985 portrayal of Captain Crane on the popular action-adventure series The A-Team. After two seasons on the show, Franklin realized that acting had become mundane and unsatisfying to him.
He began to experiment with filmmaking, getting his feet wet with writing and production. Franklin is quoted in L.A. Weekly, saying "Acting made a Director out of me.” And so, at age 37, Franklin made an important decision to return to school in 1986. This time, he chose the AFI Conservatory in Los Angeles, where he studied film directing, studying mostly the works of European and Japanese Directors. He obtained his M.F.A. degree in directing in 1986.
Switching gears back to television, Franklin directed Laurel Avenue, a two-part miniseries focused on an African-American family in Minnesota for HBO in 1993. Franklin’s portrayal of the realities of the African-American community were highly regarded, further demonstrating his knack for hard-hitting reality mixed with a deep sentimentality and understanding of humanity. One issue in particular that stood out in the series was the issue of drug use. Franklin defended his depictions, explaining that "Drugs are a huge Problem in the black community. Not to include that would be a stupid oversight. But if the subject of drugs is introduced in the context of a hardworking family that has managed to maintain unity, and the audience sees drugs as a threat to that unity, they get a much greater understanding of the Problem." The series brought Franklin even more positive reviews, proving that it is his upfront approach to portraying reality that continues to bring him success.
Following Laurel Avenue, Franklin found himself maintaining A-list status, which allowed him to work on bigger and more visible projects, such as 1998’s One True Thing. The film is an adaptation of an autobiographical story by New York Journalist Anna Quindlan, following a woman (Renée Zellweger) with no option but to leave Manhattan for the small town where she was raised when her mother (Meryl Streep) is diagnosed with cancer.
Franklin is a standout filmmaker regardless of his race, yet he is often praised for his ability to overcome adversity, and is recognized for his highly regarded opinion as well as his relevant contributions. In February 2000, Franklin was featured as a Black History Month guest speaker at Indiana University’s ‘’Black Film Center/Archive’’. The group hosted an event called A Night with Filmmaker Carl Franklin, which gave Franklin the opportunity to talk about his experience in the movie industry as well as show a preview of his film Devil in a Blue Dress. Franklin's appearance was highly regarded by many students who were honored to meet him in person.
As a prominent African-American filmmaker, Franklin stands apart from the rest in his careful selection of projects. While many of his most notable films touch on the subject of racial climates and the struggles that ensue, Franklin does not hide behind his race. Explaining to The L.A Times, "My ethnicity is a plus, a tool. It gives me ammunition in terms of the way I view the world. There are certain stories in the black community that inform us all.” Combining his humanitarian instincts and personal experiences, Franklin stands out as a visionary for community improvement through his films. However, a large part of Franklin’s remarkable journey revolves around the fact that he is black. Discussing the realities for African Americans in the television and film industry, Franklin said: "When I came up, the only legitimate dramatic actor was Sidney Poitier, the bankable star was Richard Pryor and the other choice roles were action parts that went to Jim Brown. Even someone as good as Billy Dee Williams had a couple of great moments and then couldn't get a decent part." With a very small window of opportunity for African Americans at the time that Franklin was getting his start, his skills and educational background contributed to his success.