The Wood was released in theaters 20 years ago today. The Wood is a coming-of-age film that portrays the lives of three best friends in Inglewood, California. As one of the members of their tight-knit crew cannot be found on his wedding day, Mike (Omar Epps) begins to reminisce about all of the hilarious experiences he, groom-to-be Roland (played by Taye Diggs) and Slim (played by Richard T. Jones) have gone through as young Black boys growing up in “The Wood.” Since it's been 20 years since The Wood premiered, where are they now?
Diggs made his film debut in 1998’s How Stella Got Her Groove Back, starring as Angela Bassett’s younger lover, Winston Shakespeare. In 1999, Taye Diggs had starring roles in Go, The Best Man and the absentee groom, Roland Blackmon, in The Wood. Since the The Wood, Diggs has racked up numerous film and TV credits such as Brown Sugar, Chicago, Malibu’s Most Wanted, The Best Man Holiday and many more. On the small-screen, he played Dr. Sam Bennett in Private Practice, a spin-off of Grey’s Anatomy, from 2007-2013. He’s a children’s author and currently plays Coach Billy Baker on The CW’s original series All American.
By the time Omar Epps played Mike Tarver in The Wood, he was already a seasoned and successful actor. He made his big-screen debut in Juice and starred in The Program, Major League II, Higher Learning and First Time Felon as credits under his belt. After the release of The Wood, Epps has had roles in In Too Deep, Love and Basketball, Almost Christmas and a host of others. On the small-screen, Epps played Dr. Eric Foreman in the Fox medical drama House from 2004-2012 and Shooter on USA from 2016-2018. Epps has authored a memoir entitled "From Fatherless to Fatherhood.”
Richard T. Jones
The role of the slick-talking Laveinio Hightower, a.k.a. "Slim,” was played by Richard T. Jones. Before landing his break-out role in The Wood, Jones had small roles in What’s Love Got to Do With It, Renaissance Man and Jury Duty. Jones starred in Why Did I Get Married, Why Did I Get Married Too?, Super 8, Godzilla and many more. He played Bruce Van Exel on Judging Amy from 1999-2005 and is currently a part of the cast of ABC’s police drama The Rookie.
Although her role as Alicia in The Wood was a brief one, Sanaa Lathan would launch into stardom as one of the top Black actresses in Hollywood. Lathan would amass an impressive list of film credits including Life, The Best Man, Love and Basketball, Brown Sugar, Alien Vs Predator, The Best Man Holiday, Nappily Ever After and Native Son. Lathan has starred in Disappearing Acts, Raisin in the Sun, voiced Donna Tubbs on The Cleveland Show from 2009-2013, and starred in the Fox drama Shots Fired. Lathan currently is voicing Donna Tubbs on Family Guy and has a recurring role on the Showtime drama The Affair.
Malinda Williams made her acting debut on The Cosby Show in 1987 as a teen actor. Before playing young Alicia in The Wood, Williams had roles in A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, Sunset Park and High School High. After The Wood, Williams played Traci “Bird” Van Adams on the Showtime Drama “Soul Food” from 2000-2004. Also, Williams has starred in Idlewild, Daddy’s Little Girls and First Sunday.
The role of young Roland was played by Trent Cameron. His previous roles were in the short-lived ABC sitcom Homeroom and the talk show series V.I.P. After his role as Roland in The Wood, Cameron landed roles in Snoops, The Parkers, American Dreams, D.C. Sniper: 23 Days of Fear, General Hospital and Lincoln Heights.
Before playing the role of young Mike in The Wood, Sean Nelson made his acting TV debut in a 1992 episode of the NBC series Here and Now, a spin-off of The Cosby Show. At the age of 13, he landed the starring role in Fresh, which was his film debut in 1994. Since playing his signature role in The Wood, Nelson has accrued many TV and film credits, including The Gospel, Premium, Touched by an Angel, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and Law and Order: Criminal Intent.
Rocking a jheri-curl, Duane Finley nailed the quick-witted role of young Slim. The Wood was Finley’s big-screen debut. Sine The Wood, Finley has kept busy as an actor appearing in The Breaking Point in 2014, Hogan in 2017 and His, Hers, and the Truth in 2019. Finley is also hosting an online radio show called Kidds Corner.
LisaRaye McCoy played Roland’s fiance, Lisa, who receives the news that he’s M.I.A. on their wedding day. Before The Wood, LisaRaye made her acting debut in 1998 playing Diana "Diamond" Armstrong in The Player’s Club. She played Neesee James on the UPN/The CW sitcom All of Us from 2003-2007 and Keisha Greene in the VH1 romantic comedy series Single Ladies from 2011–2014. LisaRaye also played in Love Under New Management: The Miki Howard Story as record executive Sylvia Rhone in 2016.
Tamala Jones played Tanya, Roland’s first love, and is where Mike and Slim find him after he goes missing. Jones made one of her first appearances on the big screen in Booty Call. Accumulating a long list of TV and film credits, Jones has starred in Blue Streak, Kingdom Come, The Brothers, Two Can Play That Game and Head of State. On the small screen, Jones played in the The WB sitcom For Your Love from 1998–2002 and ABC’s crime-comedy-drama Castle from 2009-2016.
De’Aundre Bonds gave scene-stealing performances in The Wood playing Stacey, Alicia’s big brother, who is also a local gang member. Previously, he had roles in Tales From the Hood, Sunset Park and Get on the Bus. Since The Wood, Bonds has appeared in Strikes, Lockdown 3 and Imperial Dreams and revisited his role as Stacey in Dope.
The Wood was Rick Famuyiwa’s directorial debut, and he also co-wrote the screenplay for the film. Famuyiwa has directed several successful films such as Brown Sugar, Our Family Wedding and Dope. Famuyiwa co-wrote Talk to Me starring Don Cheadle. He also directed the HBO film Confirmation starring Kerry Washington as Anita Hill, Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King, a comedy special on Netflix, The Chi, which he serves an executive producer, and The Mandalorian, an up-coming space-opera web television series based in the Star Wars universe.
The clergymen at the wedding scene in The Wood, credited as Reverend Parker, was actually one of the writers of the film, Dr. Todd Boyd. He co-wrote The Wood with his former pupil Rick Famuyiwa. Dr. Boyd, a.k.a. "Notorious Ph.D.," is the Katherine and Frank Price Endowed Chair for the Study of Race & Popular Culture and Professor of Critical Studies in the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He’s the author of several books including Young Black Rich and Famous: The Rise of the NBA, the Hip Hop Invasion, and the Transformation of American Culture, The Notorious Ph.D.'s Guide to the Super Fly 70s, and African Americans and Popular Culture.