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People Top 5
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- May 06, 1974
- Vol. 1
- No. 10
Tamu has gained her widest exposure to date with guest shots as ghetto student Francie Potter on the TV sit-com Maude. But her performance as the unwed and pregnant Charlene in the just premiered Claudine—a surprisingly upbeat movie about a Harlem welfare family starring Diahann Carroll and James Earl Jones—promises to establish her as a serious dramatic actress. Difficult as it is to believe watching her portrayal of the tearful adolescent Charlene, Tamu is a diminutive 23-year-old, with credits in the films Come Back Charleston Blue, Up the Sandbox and the Broadway musical Aint Supposed to Die a Natural Death.
"I owe a lot of people a lot of things," says Tamu, which is the only name she is known by. After her mother died when she was a child, Tamu was adopted by the family of Charlie Blackwell, a former stage manager for Broadway producer David Merrick, who is currently associated with Melvin Van Peebles, the black author, composer and playwright. Starting in junior high school, Tamu studied for six years with the Al Fann Theatrical Ensemble. Of Claudine, which is among the first black films to avoid the karate-chopping, pistol-packing, drug-stunned clichés of the "blaxploitation" genre, she says: "It's time that black youth saw winners."
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