By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J
Dante Brown, 19, was born and raised in Chicago, and his most recent past television credit includes playing the son of Damon Wayans’ character Roger Murtaugh on the hit Fox series “Lethal Weapon.”
Brown, who is also a rapper and a dancer, is now embarking on another big screen acting gig, playing alongside Oscar winner Octavia Spencer in the upcoming feature film “MA,” which starts in theaters everywhere on Friday, May 31.
The film stars Spencer as Sue Ann, a loner who keeps to herself in her quiet Ohio town. Some teens befriend her while asking her to purchase booze. She offers the kids the chance to avoid drinking and driving by hanging out in the basement of her home. But the arrangement turns sinister when Sue Ann’s hospitality starts to curdle into obsession and a terrorizing nightmare—and Ma’s place goes from the best place in town to the worst place on earth.
In addition to the movie, Brown also wrote, produced and performed the closing credits song of the film titled “You Hear A Sound,” under his music moniker, Dante The Great!
Brown may not have the years on him, but his body of work is extensive. He has guest starred on such hit series as NBC’s “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” Michael Bay and TNT’s “The Last Ship,” Showtime’s “Shameless,” NBC’s “Community,” NBC’s “Southland,” and CBS’ “NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service,” to name a few.
Brown held his first series regular role in 2015, co-starring opposite comedian Craig Robinson on NBC’s “Mr. Robinson.” On the film front, Brown made his feature debut in 2012 appearing alongside Oscar- and Emmy-winner Viola Davis and Maggie Gyllenhaal in “Won’t Back Down” for Twentieth Century Fox. It’s amazing that he has worked with two Oscar winners who both appeared in “The Help.”
Although acting has been Brown’s bread and butter over the years, his music has been a strong second. His press materials note that he is a Grammy Camp alumni and independent artist, who takes the blueprint of Childish Gambino, the lyricism of Kendrick Lamar, and the hustle-nomics and genius of Kanye West to create a sound that is on the forefront of Hip Hop music, inspiring and uplifting other post-millennial teens like himself.
He shared some insight about the song that he wrote for “MA.” He said that the song “talks about fighting through your problems and seeing a good, end result. I describe this single as a prescription for anyone going through a problem of any sort. It’s empowering for me, and the goal is for it to be empowering to others that have encountered challenges and overcome them.”
He attributes the creation of the song to his work while filming the movie. “My inspiration came from all the things that I learned while filming ‘MA’ and really transitioning from a teen actor into a young adult actor, not having family on set with me, for the first time, filming in a remote location that had limited to no internet. This forced me to rely on other means for entertainment and to keep myself occupied during down times and in between takes,” he said.
He added that he was just focusing on his character and the project at hand. “Although stemming from a personal experience, I feel the song is universal and can apply to anyone dealing with challenges, because ultimately they should help you grow as a human rather than stifle or prevent you from progressing.”
He said that his parents had encouraged him to seek music placement for every project that he works on, and his suggestion was approved by score producer Haskel Jackson. Brown is thrilled to have the song included in the film’s closing credits.
I have watched Brown in “Lethal Weapon,” which is a remake of the 1987 film starring Danny Glover and Mel Gibson. He is an entertaining subject, and I’m happy to see him star in this project. Look for “MA” on May 31.
Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., is the Entertainment Editor for the Chicago Crusader newspaper. She is also the author of “Old School Adventures from Englewood—South Side of Chicago.” For book info, firstname.lastname@example.org.