NEW YORK, NY – Famed Guyanese American actor, Sean Patrick Thomas, is among the stars set to attend the inaugural flag raising and VIP awards ceremony for Guyana’s independence on Bowling Green in New York City on May 26th.
Many would remember the actor from his stellar performance in the movie, ‘Save The Last Dance.’ But the 37-year-old actor has added more than half a dozen more movies to his credit since he made his debut in 1996 in the military drama “Courage Under Fire.”
Both of Thomas’ parents are Guyanese but he was born and raised in Wilmington, Delaware. He originally went to the University of Virginia to study to be a lawyer but a chance audition for a part in “A Raisin In the Sun” changed his direction. Since then he was starred in several films, including “Barbershop” 1 and 2; “Conspiracy Theory,” “Picture Perfect,” “Cruel Intentions,” and “The Fountain.” He is currently shooting for the film, ‘Vah Humbug,’ an urban tale inspired by Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” with a Valentine’s Day spin.
Thomas is among five other top Guyanese in film and sports to be lauded this year at the event, an initiative of Hard Beat Communications, Felicia Persaud.
The event is being presented in tandem with the Bowling Green Association of New York, The Guyana Independence Committee and the Guyana Ambassador to Washington, Bayney Karran.
Other top honorees are actress CCH Pounder, film producers and directors, Rohit Jagessar and Mikey Nivelli and Boxer Vivian Harris.
The Guyanese-born Pounder is a regular face on the “FX” and “The Shield.” She recently received her second Satellite Award for “Performance by an Actress in a Series, Drama” and Emmy nominations for “Best Supporting Actress” for her role as Dr. Angela Hicks on the NBC series ‘ER’ and for “Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series” for her role in FOX’s ‘THE X-FILES.’
Jagessar produced, wrote and directed “Guiana 1838.” He is confirmed to attend along with his top actress from the movie, Bollywood’s Aarti Bathija, who played Urmila in ‘Guiana 1838.’ The filmmaking journey of the writer and director of ‘GUIANA1838’ began right from his early years when his grandmother would tell him tales of how they came on ships from India to the British Caribbean. The story telling usually happened after dinner when the family would sit around an old lantern and listen as Grandma went into great detail, narrating tales of a time when the mighty British Empire owned colonies in the British West Indies.
She would tell her family about the time when millions of helpless men, women and children were left for want so that sugar production would prosper for the British plantation owners. Rohit listened attentively to the stories as his Grandmother described the people and their struggles on the land she once worked and lived on. As the years went by, the stories of his ancestors would remain with Rohit.
In 1997, he started writing the GUIANA1838 screenplay, telling the story of the people of the land once known as British GUIANA in the Caribbean. Guiana 1838 was released on September 24th, 2004 in New York and has been awarded Best Film of the year at Belize International Film Festival in Central America.
Nivelli, aka Harbans Kumar, is an Indian national who teamed up with Pradeep Samtani, to produce the sexy comedy, ‘Rainbow Ranni. Samtani, that was shot in Guyana. “Rainbow Raani’s story is set in the West Indies with some scenes being filmed in New York. It is a sexy comedy and through love and music will affirm an ultimate truth that there is an inherent goodness in each and every human being. We are all cherished children of God. Each one is lovable,” Nivelli said. “Every rainbow in the sky is a cosmic messenger reminding us that no matter how different in color, ethnicity, shape, size or statute, each one of us has individual, intrinsic beauty.
Vivian ‘Vicious’ Harris is among the top boxers who have put Guyana on the map. His prowess in the ring has resulted in him securing a world title fight this summer against Britain’s World Boxing Council (WBC) light welterweight champion Junior Witter. He is only the third Guyanese to win a world boxing title and boasts a record of 25 wins (17 knockouts) against two losses and one draw. In October 2002, Harris had beaten Cuba-born Diosbelys Hurtado in two rounds to win the WBA belt. He defended the crown three times before losing to Colombian Carlos Maussa.
The five were chosen, according to Persaud, due to their overwhelming international success in taking Guyana to higher heights in film and sports. “It is what this inaugural awards and flag raising on Bowling Green is all about,” said Persaud. “Stepping beyond what has been done in the past to present Guyana and Guyanese in the center of power of a city where they represent the fourth largest foreign born group but still remain largely invisible. It’s not about abandoning the past events that’s been done in recent years but about moving beyond the usual and showcasing the people and community in a way never before seen. The commitment of people like Sean Thomas, a second generation Guyanese, to this event, shows that we definitely are fulfilling this year’s theme of taking Guyana to higher Heights.”
While the flag raising is a public free event from 11 – 12:30 PM on May 26th at the Charging Bull area of Bowling Green Park, the VIP awards reception is for private, invited guests only.
It will include a presentation of the country’s varied and diverse cultural ambassadors, including The Dheeraj Cultural Foundation’s Ghungroos Dance School; poet James Richmond; the Guyana Shanto drummers; tassa drummers, singers Almira Brasse and Slingshot Drepaul, who is recovering from an accident and will make his first return to the stage at this event.
The flag according to Bowling Green President, Arthur Piccollo, will fly over the financial district for an entire week. Piccollo lauded Persaud for the initiative and her push to “ lift Guyana to a higher height.”
“I look forward to the best independence event outside of Guyana yet and the best ever in NYC in the most fabulous space and in the center of power of this city,” added Piccollo. “Folks who do not get involved will regret this incredible promotional opportunity as New York City – not Queens or Brooklyn – is where the center of government and the financial symbols of power are located.”
Following the public event, a private, invitation only VIP reception from 1-3 p.m. will be held at the prestigious Rotunda of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House at Bowling Green, one of the most spectacular Federal Government buildings in the nation outside of Washington, DC.