In the News…

2 West Bankers talk about roles in HBO’s ‘Treme’

By Melinda Morris, The Times-Picayune
01wctreme3.jpgChris Horne said he gets help from tutors on set to help him keep up with his studies at Thomas Jefferson High School. He will appear in ‘Treme’ and has done a commercial with Drew Brees and Reggie Bush. When Ameer Baraka was Chris Horne’s age, he was dealing drugs in New Orleans and headed for juvenile prison, where he did a year for manslaughter. As an adult, he served four years for cocaine distribution.
But now, Baraka, of Algiers, and Horne, a 15-year-old honor student from Terrytown at Thomas Jefferson High School, are on the same page: Both are working actors with speaking roles in the upcoming HBO series, “Treme,” being shot in New Orleans.
“I am really ecstatic,” said Horne, who previously appeared in another New Orleans-theme series: “K-Ville.”
Horne plays “a kid who came out of a juvenile center” in “Treme,” and is scheduled to appear in the first episode, airing April 11 at 9 p.m. His voice is scheduled to be used in another episode later in the season.
For Baraka, set to appear in the third and fourth episodes, his role as the character “Lorenzo” is part of his steady path away from the criminal life. Not only does he have ambitious acting plans — his goal is to be named “sexiest man in Hollywood,” a la George Clooney — he also is excited about using his position to influence young black men for the better.
It was in prison where Baraka said that he read his first book, “The Autobiography of Malcom X.” He said that at the time, he was on a fourth-grade reading level. He read other books that inspired him and decided that when he got out, he would make it his mission to be a role model.
In addition to his acting career, which includes roles in two upcoming feature films and previous appearances in other movies and TV shows, such as “The Unit,” “ER” and “The Handler,” Baraka helps teach a “life skills class” at his old school, Booker T. Washington in New Orleans, where he discusses the importance of controlling emotions with a strong personal value system and thoughts.
01wctreme1.jpgAmeer Baraka of Algiers went from serving time in juvenile prison for manslaughter and adult prison for a drug conviction, to appearing in feature films and TV shows, including the upcoming ‘Treme’ on HBO. He enjoys taking students to the sets, where they get to be extras, earn some extra cash and see a positive way of living, he said.
Horne got into acting through his mother, Tosha Horne.
Both Baraka and Chris Horne are managed by her. Working out of her home office in Terrytown, Tosha Horne manages 30 clients. “All of them are union members,” she said proudly. “Every last one of them is working.” Some live in Los Angeles and some in New York.
Another of her clients, Donna Duplantier of New Orleans, also has a role in “Treme.”
Tosha Horne got started in the talent agency business when another son, Blake, got into show business. She felt the agents he was working for weren’t being honest.
“I decided I wanted to bring values to this industry,” she said.
She has two other sons who are more interested in athletics than acting, and she lets her children pursue their own dreams. Although his mother got him into the business, Chris Horne said “it’s become more of my passion.” He said that meeting Raven-Symone, star of the TV show “That’s So Raven,” was a big inspiration for him to continue with his career. He hopes to study acting in college.
Besides “Treme,” he also was in a national commercial recently with Drew Brees and Reggie Bush for EA Madden Sports. While Brees soaks in a hot tub, Chris Horne soaks his thumb that’s sore from playing video games.
Baraka said he is inspired by actors such as Clooney, Samuel L. Jackson and Will Smith. He met Smith at an anti-violence march in Philadelphia, where Smith “talked to every kid” despite the pouring rain that day. Smith is a rich man, but a humble man, Baraka said.
“I’d like to emulate him.”