Two people sitting outside during nighttime facing several candles sitting on boxes and the ground.
VCU alum Mikayla Bartholomew (right) stars in Winter Dunn's film "Dear Mama ..." Bartholomew appears in this scene with co-star Garland Scott. ('Dear Mama...")

From the theater stage to the silver screen: Two VCUarts alumni nominated for the NAACP Image Awards

Joshua Boone and Mikayla Bartholomew, who graduated from the Department of Theatre, are recognized for their performances in films released in 2022.

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Two Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts alumni – who in recent years have worked with the likes of Tyler Perry and Will Smith – have been nominated for this year’s NAACP Image Awards.

Joshua Boone, who received a B.F.A. in theatre in 2010, is nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture for his role as Bayou in Perry’s “A Jazzman’s Blues.” The film – which was 27 years in the making – tackles themes of forbidden love, betrayal and racism.

Perry originally planned to play Bayou himself, but – after aging out of the role – chose Boone to bring the character to life.

“I didn’t have fear necessarily,” Boone told Variety about filling Perry’s shoes. “It was just something that was like, ‘Oh, if you trust me with this, I’m ready to go to work. I’m ready to get it in.’”

“A Jazzman’s Blues” is also nominated for Outstanding Breakthrough Performance in a Motion Picture, Outstanding Motion Picture and Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture.

Mikayla Bartholomew, who graduated in 2017 with a B.F.A. in theatre, played the lead role of Tanisha in “Dear Mama…” which is nominated for Outstanding Short Form (Live Action). The film, directed by Winter Dunn, is about a teenage girl dealing with the loss of her mother around the time of Tupac Shakur’s death. The film’s title is an ode to Shakur’s single from his 1995 album “Me Against the World.” (Editor's note 03/01/23): “Dear Mama…” won the award in its category.)

Bartholomew auditioned after attending a workshop viewed by the casting director, Bartholomew told Asked By Ayana.

“I got into the room, and I wanted to be a student of the space and wanted to treat it like it was a rehearsal,” Bartholomew said. “I wanted Winter to know that I was going to take the job seriously if I was afforded the opportunity to tell that story.”

A woman sitting on a tree branch speaks to a man standing below her.
VCU alum Joshua Boone, right, stars as Bayou in Tyler Perry's "A Jazzman's Blues." Here, he shares a scene with co-star Solea Pfeiffer. (Jace Downs/Netflix)

This is Bartholomew’s second NAACP Image nomination in the last two years. The first was for Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture for her role as Tunde Price in the 2021 biographical film “King Richard,” starring Will Smith.

Next month, Bartholomew is set to star in“Angry, Raucous, and Shamelessly Gorgeous,” a Virginia Stage Company production in Norfolk directed by Tawnya Pettiford-Wates, Ph.D., a professor of acting and directing pedagogy at VCU. Pettiford-Wates worked with both Bartholomew and Boone as students.

“They have grown into passionate and potent artists who recognize how powerful art is as a way to tell the truth about the world we live in through the transformative power of story,” Pettiford-Wates said. “Both of these young artists are concerned about the intersection of art and activism and fully embrace that responsibility.”

The annual NAACP Image Awards honors performances in film, television, theater, music and literature. The show airs live on Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. on BET.