Michael Michele has won acclaim for her portrayals of strong and capable women on television and feature films over her 25-year acting career. She currently co-stars in Lee Daniels' series Star, as Midtown Records owner Ayanna Floyd, on FOX; and in Ava DuVernay's critically acclaimed OWN series, Queen Sugar, as Darlene.
A native of Evansville, Indiana, Michele’s big break came in 1991 when she was cast in Mario Van Peebles’s gritty urban drama, New Jack City; a year later she was a regular on the TV series, Dangerous Curves (CBS). Her performance in the mini-series, Trade Winds (NBC), soon led her to a recurring role on New York Undercover, as attorney Sandy Gill. She then landed a co-starring role on Darren Starr’s splashy nighttime soap, Central Park West.
After appearances in a handful of feature films, Michele scored another major TV role as Detective Rene Sheppard in the Emmy-winning series Homicide: Life On the Street, which earned her a NAACP Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series nomination. She then turned in her badge to star in the top-rated hospital drama, ER, as Dr. Cleo Finch.
Michele’s well-regarded work on that series boosted her stock in the film industry and she soon co-starred alongside Will Smith in the Oscar-nominated feature film, Ali. Later she went on star in the feature film Dark Blue, opposite Kurt Russell, and How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, opposite Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson. She has also made guest appearances on House (FOX) and The Following (FOX) and most recently seen in CBS's Macgyver & Blue Bloods.
Michele is also the founder of The Roundtable ChitChat, a women’s mentoring foundation, which mentors and empowers women throughout the United States. Now, after more than twenty-five years in front of the camera, Michele has launched MIX66, a film production company, whose first project is the docu-series, Men, which explores the unexpected lives of African American men. Michele resides in N.Y. with her twelve-year-old son.
CHRIS L. JENKINS
Chris L. Jenkins is an award winning journalist and executive producer who has written about politics, poverty and social policy over his 16-year career at The Washington Post. Most recently, he supervised the Post's local political and criminal justice reporters, where he led award winning journalism on police involved shootings in the Washington D.C. area and the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Chris also recently served as founder and executive director of BrotherSpeak: Exploring the Lives of Black Men, an award winning 5-part video series published on the Washington Post website in 2013 and 2014, which is the progenitor to Men.
As an award winning reporter, Chris covered immigration, race, religion and local politics for three years before joining the Post's Richmond, Va. bureau where he began a 5-year career covering state and national politics, including the 2004 presidential election. In 2007, Chris contributed to The Post’s coverage of the Virginia Tech shooting massacre, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news. As a regional social policy reporter from 2007 to 2009, his stories on the Virginia mental health system sparked changes to state law; he was also one of the lead reporters on the paper’s coverage of the early impacts of the Great Recession.
Chris has also recently served as the managing editor for The Root.com and was co-founder and editor of TheRootDC, The Washington Post’s micro-site that focused on the Washington area’s African-American community. In both those roles he oversaw staffs that covered the death of Trayvon Martin and its aftermath, the George Zimmerman trial, and the beginning of President Obama's second term.
Chris is the author of several award winning stories, including journalism that explored how the 2008 recession disproportionately impacted African-American women and an in depth profile of a family trying to return to the middle class after losing their livelihood during the downturn. Discussing his Post reporting, Chris has been on numerous news broadcasts including WAMU, WCVE and NPR.