Alumna Writes, Produces, Stars in Film About Dorothy Dandridge
By Hazel Scott/ASU
“Law and Order: Organized Crime” star, Christina Karis, has written, produced and stars in a film about the legendary “Dorothy Dandridge,” a black American film actress and singer, who was the first black woman to be nominated for an Academy Award for best actress.
The film, “Call Me Dottie,” explores Dandridge’s troubled life before the fame and after her fall.
In the 1960s, Dandridge’s life and career were wracked by divorce, personal bankruptcy, and the absence of offers of work. In 1964, at age 42, she was found dead in her West Hollywood apartment, either a suicide or a victim of an accidental drug overdose.
“Dorothy was one of the most fascinating creatures to ever walk this planet. Immensely talented yet deeply troubled. Her life was a movie in itself, a superstar born ahead of her time, who broke down barriers, yet lived most of her life with a broken heart,” Karis said.
Karis pointed out that because Dandridge was a black woman in a racially tense era, film offers did not come readily though she did appear in several films, including winning the title role in Otto Preminger’s all-black “Carmen Jones,” earning an Oscar nomination.
Karis said Dandridge was a game-changer who was the first black actress to have a real main role as anything besides a maid or a caretaker, who stood up for what she believed, demanding her rights and refusing to perform or act in a movie if she was not given equal rights.
“The audacity to try to put words and images to this legend’s life kept this story in my heart for years. But it haunted me until I finally, with the help of a beautiful creative team, tried,” Karis said.
“Call Me Dottie,” will hit the big screen soon.
“I know you’ll fall in love with her just as I did many years ago,” Karis remarked.
About Christina Karis
Deemed "a baby Dorothy Dandridge" by her college theater professors, Karis dreamed of one day following in the steps of one of America's first Black movie stars, achieving artistic excellence with grace, class, elegance, and beauty.
So far, her dreams have become reality.
Karis, a film and television actress, has shared the screen with Don Cheadle and Ewan McGregor (“Miles Ahead”), Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser (“Mad About You), and boasts a plethora of television credits including “This is Us,” “The Walking Dead: World Beyond,” “Queen of the South,” “The Resident,” and “Queen Sugar.”
She counts Dandridge, Elenora Duse, Viola Davis, Nicole Kidman, Denzel Washington, and Meryl Streep as her inspirations.