It’s safe to say the road taken to the glitz and glamor of showbusiness by Lee’s Summit’s Jonathan Aldridge and Jermel Nakia, and Blue Springs’ Yorke Fryer is definitely less traveled.
In fact, by Aldridge’s admission, stories are rarely heard where a middle-class upbringing is celebrated in the annals of the entertainment industry.
It’s the rags-to-riches tales that get the most publicity, Aldridge said, the bad-boy-turned-good anecdotes that garner the most praise.
Well, move over successful Hollywood stories. The trio of Aldridge, Nakia, and Fryer – Nakia’s brother – are on the verge of rewriting the script.
Aldridge and Nakia, an actor and stylist in Los Angeles, worked the red carpet May 26 during the world premiere of “American Bad Boy” starring comedian Katt Williams. Fryer, a screenwriter, joined his friends.
“You don’t really see too many articulate, educated black people that come from where we come from,” Aldridge said during a recent interview from San Francisco, where he was filming for his Maverik Productions-produced “Inside LA Show.” “Not to knock our race, but if you look at a lot of rappers and actors, a lot of them come from bad neighborhoods with guns and crime.
“My dad was a doctor and I grew up in Lakewood. Jermel’s dad is very high profile and Yorke grew up in the suburbs of Blue Springs. The media likes to show that (negativity), but one thing about us, I think the three of us can do positive things to help young, black (entertainers) follow their dreams and goal.”
The eastern Jackson County natives have been on a tear lately far from their hometowns.
Directed by veteran Hollywood actor Obba Babatunde, the L.A. premiere was a perfect backdrop for Aldridge to do his thing.
“His energy is absolutely insatiable,” said Babatunde, who was also executive producer of the film. “He was such an asset on the red carpet. I can’t say enough good things about him. I am very, very proud of that young man.”
Nakia said once the cameras were rolling, Aldridge was ready for action.
“It is something that no one has ever seen,” Nakia said. “Jonathan; this is what he is supposed to do. I don’t know how anybody has this much energy. It’s like life happens when he walks into the room with what he does.”
Just last week, Fryer joined his brother and Aldridge for a four-hour ride up the coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco for the 17th annual San Francisco Black Film Festival.
Aldridge, by nature, led the charge, Fryer said.
“Two different (film) crews at the Black Film Festival approached us,” Fryer said. “One approached Jermel and the other crew approached me and they were like, ‘You three are amazing. I don’t know what you are doing but you have something really special.’”
Aldridge said he will remain in L.A. for the time being to work on branding Maverik Productions. Both Nakia and Fryer have welcomed their childhood friend to stay in the area.
“The moment he started, people at the (film festival) were like, who is that,” said Fryer, a screenwriter in L.A. who penned a short film entitled “It’s a Match” starring Hana Mae Lee of “Pitch Perfect” fame. “The energy absolutely changed. People were waiting in line to get interviewed by Jonathan.
“I think he’s got to come out here.”