Friday, February 17, 2017

28 Days Of Black Women In Horror: Janee Michelle

Janee Michelle (1946- )

Scream Blacula Scream (1973)

Geneva Leona Mercadel (Janee) was born into a large family with deep roots in the New Orlean's Seventh Ward. She is what New Orleans natives call a "Creole's Creole." Her father was a barber who owned a business on St. Anthony Street and her mother was a hairdresser. She always wanted to be an entertainer and participated in recitals in school or other venues. She credits her mother for being her staunchest supporter "who was the foundation of my life and all my successes." Her earliest memories of performers who inspired her are of Pearl Bailey, Eartha Kitt and Lena Horne appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show. The family relocated and she arrived in LA convinced she would make it. She got an agent and changed her name. She was also enrolled at the time in Manual Arts High School. While she commuted weekly to Las Vegas to work as a dancer, she graduated 25th scholastically in a class of 500. Today, she is a successful businesswoman in New Orleans and is still playing roles in films. (Source)

About Scream Blacula Scream (1973)

When Gloria (Michelle) comes up from her coffin, hungry and summoning Lisa (Pam Grier) in the parlor with her deliberate pacing and baby voice, it was pretty unsettling. The look and cinematography gave Michelle's performance a boost because even though Lisa was a practitioner of a religion that relies on the belief of the supernatural, it was still unintentionally funny to watch Lisa, even in her grief, fall for the okey doke. Even portraying a step behind a supporting role, Scream Blacula Scream managed to give just about each of its cast members some shine and significance in their roles. No one was really a disposable character in a sense. Everyone was connected and stood out. Janee's Gloria was a perfect example of this, proving that you can have an ensemble cast in the plot of the film and care about almost all of them equally.

Other Genre Performances

John's Mother, When The Bough Breaks (2016)
Vendor, Star-Crossed (2014)
Lorena Christophe, The House On Skull Mountain (1974)
Agency Chief's Girlfriend, The Mephisto Waltz (1971)Dorothy Wilson, Bewitched (1970)

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