Prolific actor and director Brian Hooks is known for his animated comedic performances; be that as it may, his recent off-screen efforts have led to a new philanthropic journey outside of the spotlight.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Hooks launched a production company called Left of Bang Entertainment (LOBE). Aside from producing in-house films, LOBE will provide free educational programs and mentorship opportunities for inner-city kids.
In a recent interview, Hooks said “The whole idea around [LOBE] is to extend an olive branch into the inner city that allows kids to be a part of the Hollywood magic.” Hooks’ production company will cover all aspects of filmmaking; any and everything, from acting classes to hair and make-up, wardrobe, screenwriting, on-set production, as well as teaching kids how to edit a film down to its finished product.
Hollywood’s film industry can be tough to break in to, and that is especially true for a young person from the inner-city whose family may be struggling financially. Some kids just do not have the essentials—whether that be fresh food or even clean water, let alone owning a computer or asking their parents to buy film equipment because they have an idea for movie. Something so innocent yet can be severely discouraging when you are a kid with big dream.
Inevitably, young minds are likely to become victim of high levels of psychosocial stressors and inadequate supportive resources. A combination that can likely lead to poor decision making or inferiority complexes of some kind. Without any positive outlets, many children that grow-up in our inner-cities turn to residual external support like substance abuse, or even becoming gang affiliated.
“[LOBE] is place where [kids] can come and get ideas, and support from us to keep them on the right path,” said Hooks. “In essence, keep them Left of Bang, that ‘Bang’ in our name represents the action-moment in a youth’s life where they commit a violent act or join a gang… Our mission is to keep them left of bang and keep them on the right track headed toward success.”
Through LOBE, Hooks has created an environment where kids can learn to overcome their circumstances and transcend it into a much healthier space of consciousness. He has made it apparent that the inner-city youth desperately need positive role models, “[offering] a mentorship [program] that is ongoing.”
“Through our film classes—kids can learn the ins and outs, and they get to meet some of these celebrities that they have looked up to and admired,” said Hooks. “I want this to be a school that caters to the youth who need it—for free, forever.”
Since his 1996 acting debut in the film “Phat Beach,” Hooks has acted in notable films like “Bulworth,” “Beloved,” “3 Strikes,” “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” “Fools Gold,” and many more. He has appeared in over 50 films, and worked with the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Kevin Hart, Mo’Nique, Mike Epps, Halle Berry, and many more of Hollywood’s illustrious.
Hooks latest film “Adam and Eve” which he wrote, directed, produced as well as act in the lead role is expected to be released later this year. A story about two people who fall in love, but their dark secrets prevent them from living happily—a much different construct from what fans have been used to seeing.
“And a sequel to “3 Strikes” is coming as well, and then I’m redoing “Phat Beach” with the younger generation,” Hooks announced. The sequel to “3 Strikes” will have “All the same [cast], E-40 is coming back, Faizon Love, DJ Pooh who wrote and directed the first one. It will be all the usual characters and a few more.”
Despite his decorated resume of film credits which is a testimony to a rare longevity few actors in the industry experience, Hooks searches for deeper meaning—beyond the fame. Hooks said, “I basically, came to a crossroads in my life, where I’m feeling like: ‘okay, what else?’ This can’t be it, there has to be more.”
American philosopher, Henry David Thoreau once said, “Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.” Like Thoreau, Hooks interprets a legacy beyond the silver screen and the superficialities of daily life, in which he rather dedicate his time to helping children whom lack the resources to follow their dreams.
“At this stage in my life, it is about more than me,” said Hooks. “The feeling you get from [helping someone] is unlike any other feeling in the world. Luckily, I was able figure that out through speaking with some of my mentors, so it’s got me on this path, and this is probably the best space I’ve ever been in, in my life.”
Currently, Hooks is contacting youth centers as well as various high schools to help identify kids who qualify for the program. “Right now, we’re looking at kids who are 13 to 19 [years old] as the core age. With that said, if you are 21 [years old] and you need this—reach out to us, if you are 22 [years old] and you need this—reach out to us,” said Hooks. “Even if it is not filmmaking, if you want to be an artist or if you want to do music, this is just arming you with tools to expand your arsenal… Again, the number one qualification for me is just a commitment to stay Left of Bang.”
To participate in the LOBE movement go to www.leftofbangentertainment.com, or message one of the LOBE social media pages: www.facebook.com/leftofbangentertainment, www.instagram.com/leftofbangentertainment, or www.twitter.com/leftofbangent. Thus far, LOBE has already raised over $50,000, and if you would like to support the next LOBE film production, as well as their inner-city youth’s participation in the production—make a pledge to the LOBE Kickstarter, at www.kickstarter.com/projects/leftofbang/left-of-bang-entertainment.