By Okema “Seven” Gunn
In the 1990’s, Lawrence began modeling and acting. He decided to write because many of the ideas he had imagined, had not been portrayed in movies or television. Acting and writing were vehicles to create and an outlet for a teenager with a passion for the arts. Monologues and concepts grew into skits, plays, and then films. Hirsch High School had a huge impact on his beginnings. It was not a school for the arts, but it did have a drama program, which struggled to stay afloat. He enjoyed every minute of the program and soaked up everything he could learn like a little sponge. There, he got his first brush with fame by meeting Dick Gregory. At the time, Lawrence was writing/developing one act plays. Mr. Gregory read it and gave feedback saying, “Don’t Give Up.” This was music to his ears and just the inspiration that he needed.
First movies ever seen. George Lucas’s Star Wars. “A larger than life space epic, which became a history-making spectacular event that no one had ever seen or imagined could be set to screen. On a grand scale of proportions…dramatic and yet funny at the same time. A Sci-fi/ epic drama. The Wiz- Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Nipsey Russell, Lena Horne and a host of other memorable black cast members. This was an amazing perspective on a classic story of a girl in a fantastical land. Amazing, beautiful, and creative,” adds Wallace enthusiastically.
Favorite Directors-Spike Lee, Martin Scorsese, Antoine Fuqua, F. Gary Gray, Steven Spielberg, John Singleton, Darren Aronofsky, James Cameron, and a list of others. Lawrence has been directing for 10 to 15 years and involved in directing film for 5 to 6 years. He directed two plays by Shywanee Manson called, ”Apology from One Sista to Another,” and ”My Sista I’m Sorry.” He enjoys theater for its sense of live action for the audience, but movies and television are his passion.
His first film involvement as an actor was in 1996, “Reasons” with Bernie Mac. Monty Ross(cousin to Spike Lee) directed this film (before Bernie Mac was famous). Lawrence would love to work with talent like Denzel Washington, Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, and Halle Berry in the Sci-fi thriller genre. Wallace likes Sci-fi and horror the most, but his roots are in comedy and sci-fi. This is where it all began for him, doing skits and one act plays. “I love to write absurd, off-the-wall scenarios with a comedic flavor.” Wallace started winning awards for his 1990’s Urban Scenze on Stage, which turned into DVD Series Vol.1 Vol.2, with the help of Victory Multimedia-located in California (available on Borders and Netflix. 2004, 2007) Two of his most recent projects are starting to culminate a buzz: Night Thrasher:Rave and Chiraq.
Night Thrasher: Rave- “For Marvel, this is an initiative that were trying to promote; rolling out ethnic characters and proving them viable and successful as a series. We’re pushing it on youtube and want increased awareness of it. Eric Lane makes public appearances as “Night Thrasher,” a crime-fighting, ebony superhero. We want to exhibit “Night Thrasher” as a positive aspect of the community,” says Lawrence.
Chiraq the Series- One of his next major projects, written by Michael Dushon and Bill Pierce. “This is something that people will not expect. It’s about family, community, politics, and violence in society. In an urban environment there are also other dynamics that come in to play, like poverty, the underserved, the uneducated. This series will shed light on why the name “Chiraq” came about and why we need to be honest about what’s going on. There needs to be an accountability and responsibility by our aldermen, representatives, and our mayor. People will be attracted to Chiraq because they want to know the “real issues” about what’s going on in our community. Chiraq will invite audiences become “up close and personal” to what’s going on.
Finally, I would have to say overall I was thoroughly impressed by what this writer/director had to say in the interview. I was caught off-guard by his eloquent speaking and cool swagger. Lawrence has proven to be what I call the 5 C’s of entertainment. Cool. Clever. Creative. Collaborative. And Class Act.
Lawrence Lee Wallace Awards:
2004- American Black Film Festival (ABFF)-“Urban Scenze”
2009-Black Harvest Film Festival- “If you Love Me”
2010-Metropolitan Board Empowerment Award
2010-ShriekFest-Horror Film Festival- “Dark Hallways”
2011-Las Vegas International Film Festival Official Selection- Agin Muhammad’s “Letters from Prison”
2011-Park Forest Entertaining with Excellence Award
2012-Atlanta Film Festival-Official Selection-Agin Muhammad’s “A Man’s Gotta Do”
Artist Grant for the City of Chicago for “Web Series: Villains,” on youtube
2014-Wizard World: Comic-Con- Official Selection “Night Thrasher: Rave