Hip Hop's First Daughter Vanessa Simmons Examines "Actors vs. Rapper-Turned Actors" Phenomenon in a New Hip Hop Play, The Actor's Rap

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Actress and star of MTV's "Run's House" to debut as leading actress in J. Kyle Manzay's satirical new play examining the ever-controversial phenomenon between "Actors" and "Rapper-Turned-Actors". Starring Obie award winning actor and acclaimed playwright J. Kyle Manzay (American Gangster, Off-Broadway's "The Blacks: A Clown Show), Vanessa Simmons (Run's House), Michael Shawn (Hot 97 Morning Show), Déjà vu (Power 105.1), & Ann Tripp (WBLS The Steve Harvey Morning Show).

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Beginning January 31st, Actress, entrepreneur and daughter of Reverend Run, Vanessa Simmons is to star in The Actor's Rap, a new major off-Broadway production written, produced, and directed by playwright and Obie-Award winning actor J Kyle Manzay (American Gangster, Off-Broadway's The Blacks: A Clown Show, etc.). Michael Shawn of Hot 97 fame also stars in the play. The hip-hop infused comedy, where pop culture meets satire, examines the downward spiral of an African-American actor who begins to lose roles -- and a girlfriend -- to a famous rapper-turned-actor. Fed up, the play's protagonist takes matters into his own hands hatching a plan to kidnap his rival (the rapper) by calling upon his classically trained actor buddies to help him pull off the caper. What ensues next is a hilarious sequence of events sure to leave audiences in stitches.

The major Off-Broadway production of The Actors Rap will debut on January 31st at the Engleman Recital Hall of the Baruch Performing Arts Center with runs until March 1, 2008.

The phenomenon of rappers turned actors has been prevalent since Run DMC starred in Fat Boys, or when Krush Groove was cast. "This has been happening for a while now. At first no one said anything because (the rappers) were playing themselves or roles that were very close to themselves," explains the play's star J Kyle Manzay, most recently known for his appearance in the film, American Gangster. "But now rappers are getting meaty rolls and that's why it's becoming a bigger issue."

"I think that it's good that people are giving rappers the opportunity to be film stars, but at the same time I feel that because of a name, real hard working actors miss out on great parts where they know they can deliver," says Vanessa Simmons, who had a reoccurring role on the legendary soap opera The Guiding Light.

As the eldest daughter of hip-hop pioneer, Reverend Run, Vanessa will star alongside the play's writer, director and producer J Kyle as Lil' Tease.

Workshop productions of The Actor's Rap! at the Washington D.C. Hip-Hop Theater Festival, the New York City Hip-Hop Theater Festival, and New York Summer Stage in the Parks received such a tremendous response that the comedy will also be staged in Los Angeles this spring and there is talk of bringing it abroad.

J Kyle Manzay had this to say about his upcoming directorial debut, "I'm really excited to be a part of the evolution of the theatrical experience…I gurantee that everyone will enjoy it on some level. Either they'll love the actor's frustration or the rappers domination. Whatever the case, they'll love it because it's relevant and revolutionary."

What celebrities are saying about "The Actors Rap":

"It's one of the greatest ways of telling the story of rappers turned actors."
-- Common (Rapper/Actor)

"The Actor's Rap!," was genius on many levels …"
-- Malik Yoba (Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married?)

"The funniest play I've seen in years. I couldn't stop laughing."
-- Wendell Pierce (HBO's The Wire)

View the trailer: http://www.theactorsrap.com/trailer.html

The Actor's Rap! Play opens Thursday, January 31st for a limited engagement

ENGELMAN RECITAL HALL, BARUCH PERFORMING ARTS CENTER
All shows Thursday - Saturday at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 3 p.m. & 8 p.m.

Ticket Information:    
Tickets are $45 for the general public and $25 for college students with a valid student ID. Tickets are on sale now. To purchase tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit http://www.theatermania.com or http://www.theactorsrap.com.

For interviews or show coverage requests, please contact the J Sharpe Agency.

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Jennifer Sharpe Williams
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