Posted March 20, 2008 -- "Great Debaters" star Jurnee Smollett says she will team with Wiley College in Marshall, TX to start a $2 million scholarship fund, reports EUR.
The scholarship is in honor of Henrietta Bell Wells, the woman who inspired her character Samanthe Booke in "The Great Debaters," as well as the actress' mother Janet Smollett, a civil rights activist and humanitarian.
Smollett shared news of the scholarship before a crowd of students, faculty and alumni at the 35th Founders Observance Banquet, held Saturday at the Civic Center in Marshall.
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"I'm told I'm a statistic," Smollett said to the crowd. "I'm told that my young black sisters are disease-ridden...but we are greater than what society tells us we are."
The 21-year-old said the scholarship fund aims to "put young girls through college" and help curb the sensationalized images of Black women often seen on television. Smollett, who portrayed the only woman in a group of underdog Wiley College debaters in the film, was also presented with an honorary degree at the school's Founders Observance Convocation.
Nash Gets "Inn"
Actress Niecy Nash, best known for her role as the healthy-bottomed cop Raineesha Williams on Comedy Central's "Reno 911," will topline a comedy pilot for Fox titled "The Inn."
The storyline is described by the Hollywood Reporter as an updated version of the British drama "Upstairs/Downstairs" set at a hip New York hotel. It will be written and executive produced by "Arrested Development" executive story editor Abraham Higginbotham.
Nash, whose real name is Carol Denise Ensley, is currently in theaters as a voice in the No. 1 film "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who."
More Starz for Martin Lawrence
Starz Entertainment's comedy series "Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-up" has been renewed for a third season with 10 new half hour episodes, beginning Wednesday, July 9 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
Executive produced by Martin Lawrence, the show will be taped April 3 through April 5 at the historic Lincoln Theatre in Washington, D.C., near where Lawrence grew up in Maryland.
"Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-up" features the nation's hottest and edgiest up-and-coming talent as well as star comics performing before a live audience. Returning as host of the show is Doug Williams, who introduces each act and adds his own style of comedy. Also returning to spin the music is DJ Biz Markie.
Comedians tentatively scheduled to perform include, Bruce Bruce, Joe Clair, Lavell Crawford, Don 'D.C' Curry, Roz G., Luenell, Gary Owen, Rod Man, Shang, Rickey Smiley, Joe Torry, Kym Whitley and others.