robert_townsend.jpgMIAMI (Florida International University) – Actor and filmmaker Robert Townsend is teaming up with 20 students from the Overtown community and 25 students from the University of Miami to give local youth the opportunity to become involved in the movie industry.

Playin’ for Love, a romantic comedy to be directed and produced by Townsend, is part of a community based film project to focus on neighborhood schools such as Booker T. Washington, Miami Jackson, Miami Edison and other high schools.

Auditions for the movie will be held Nov. 10 at 9 a.m. at Booker T. Washington High School, 1200 N.W. 6th Ave.

For further details contact 305-679-6800.

“When you go out to these neighborhoods, you see that this project is bigger than all of us,” said Townsend. “These kids are being affected by the guns and the violence.”

Townsend is best known for movies such as The Meteor Man, The Five Heartbeats and the soon-to-be-released In The Hive.

City officials and community leaders gathered last week at Miami City Hall to announce the six-week training program, to be coordinated among South Florida Workforce, the state's employment agency; the City of Miami, the University of Miami School of Communication and the Southeast Overtown Park West/Omni Community Redevelopment Agency.

Participants “will obtain firsthand experience about what it takes to create a film from behind the scenes, directing, producing, writing, makeup and everything else you can think of,” said Miami Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones, who represents Overtown.

Other supporters include Jamba Inc., parent company of Jamba Juice stores; the Miami Heat; Miami-Dade County Public Schools and basketball Hall of Fame player Isiah Thomas.

“Robert and I were those two kids living in poverty and there were people out there who advocated for us,” said Thomas, who grew up with Townsend in Chicago. “We have the opportunity now through sports and entertainment to change the lives of other kids.”

Officials also hope the project will increase the city's presence in the movie industry.

“It’s important that we send the message that Miami is the place to be if you want to be in film in the next decade,” said Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. “We want to be the Hollywood of the south.”

Contact Melissa Caceres at: