Warrior Stephen Curry, TV star Lyndsy Fonseca, pop sensation Zendaya, and more.
Brains, beauty, brawn.
Lyndsy Fonseca might look like a beautiful girl next door, but don’t turn your back on her. She’ll break you in half.
Fonseca is carving out a niche as Hollywood’s go-to girl for brutal beatings and hired hit jobs. The 26-year-old East Bay native was raised in Moraga and Alameda, before she headed off to Hollywood, where she landed a role on the classic soap opera The Young and the Restless at age 13. From there, she earned recurring roles on hit shows such as Desperate Housewives, Big Love, and How I Met Your Mother, before finding her niche as an action hero with comic chops.
This summer, Fonseca stars alongside Jim Carrey in the August action comedy Kick-Ass 2. Fonseca reprises her role as Katie Deauxma, girlfriend to vigilante superhero Kick-Ass, from the 2010 movie of the same name. The hyperviolent movie was a big box-office hit, grossing nearly $100 million worldwide.
As if starring in a big-screen action franchise isn’t enough, Fonseca also kicks butt on TV. She costars with supermodel/martial arts star Maggie Q on the hit show Nikita. The espionage-themed series, which features Fonseca as an assassin-in-training, will soon begin filming its conclusive fourth season scheduled to air in 2014.
Fonseca isn’t the only rising star in her household. Her younger sister, Hannah Leigh, 17, works regularly on a range of TV shows, including Body of Proof, Bones, Dollhouse, and Disney’s Kickin’ It. —Peter Crooks
Teen pop triple threat.
Zendaya is just 16 years old, but she’s setting the entertainment world on fire.
The Oakland-raised actor-dancer-singer became a national sensation with a hit TV show, Shake It Up, on the Disney Channel, and then raised her profile considerably by reaching the finals on Dancing With the Stars in May. Zendaya dazzled millions of DWTS viewers with consistently sensational dance performances.
Not bad for a kid who headed off to Hollywood less than three years ago.
“I was getting recognized from Shake It Up, but after Dancing With the Stars, the moms and grandmoms are more excited than their daughters when they see me,” says Zendaya, laughing. As proud as she is of her performance on DWTS, she’s understandably happy to be done filming the intensely challenging competition show.
“People really don’t understand how difficult the show is. We rehearsed all day, every day,” says Zendaya. “I would get up early, go to school, and then rehearse. Some weeks, it was even more difficult, because we would have to learn two dances, in two different styles. There’s no way to fake through it.”
After finishing DWTS, Zendaya jumped right back into her singing and acting career. She is releasing a pop single, “Replay,” this month, and a Shake It Up–themed music video, “Fashion Is My Kryptonite,” will debut during the world television broadcast premiere of Toy Story 3 on August 3. “That’s another dream come true,” says Zendaya. “I love Toy Story. It’s one of my favorite movies. I used to live right around the corner from Pixar.”
Zendaya will be back in the East Bay on July 6, to perform at Pleasanton’s Alameda County Fair. Her entertainment roots are still based here, as well as her family. Her mother, Claire Stoermer, is the longtime house manager of California Shakespeare Theater in Orinda.
“I’m the Cal Shakes house kid forever,” says Zendaya. “I know where everything goes at that theater because I learned everything about that place from my mom. No matter what, no one can take that title away from me.”
New episodes of Shake It Up will air on the Disney Channel throughout the summer. To hear Zendaya’s music, go to zendaya.com. —Angela Sasse
De La Salle’s coaching legend.
When De La Salle’s Bob Ladouceur announced that he was going to step down from leading the Concord high school’s football program earlier this year, it marked an end to a legendary run. During his 34 years as head coach, his Spartans claimed 17 state championships and at one point, set a national record by winning 151 consecutive games during a dozen undefeated seasons.
Ladouceur still teaches at De La Salle, and he says he isn’t sure how he will feel when the 2013 De La Salle football season begins without him as head coach. “I’m still involved with the football program but in a much smaller role,” says Ladouceur. “I’m sure that when the season starts, it will be a strange feeling.”
When Diablo caught up with the famously reserved Ladouceur this summer, the coach didn’t really want to discuss his gridiron glory days. Instead, he spent most of the interview discussing the legacy of a former player whose tragic story Ladouceur is dedicated to honoring. Former Spartan Terrance Kelly was killed in Richmond in 2004, just days before he was scheduled to leave the East Bay to attend the University of Oregon on an athletic scholarship. Kelly was sitting in a car in his Richmond neighborhood, when he was shot to death by a teenage boy.
“Terrance was an excellent student and athlete,” Ladouceur recalls. “He was quiet, a good leader, a happy-go-lucky type kid. He was about to leave for college, and we were just starting the 2004 season, when this happened. The first trip we took as a team in 2004 was to his funeral. Something like [his death], of course, brings everything back into a clear reality.”
Ladouceur is on the board of the Terrance Kelly Youth Foundation, an after-school center in Richmond where kids can do their homework with the help of tutors. Ladouceur says that the foundation offers “the kind of program that would have been phased out of Richmond due to lack of funding,” if it weren’t for the foundation’s money, which comes from corporate grants and fundraising events, such as the August 17 dinner and auction at De La Salle.
“They have computers, cooking classes, and programs where the kids can do ropes courses and come out to De La Salle to meet our kids,” says Ladouceur. “There are a lot of neat things going on.”
While East Bay football fans will always hail Ladouceur as a local hero, the whole world will soon hear his story. A feature film, When the Game Stands Tall, is being shot this summer about his career. The screenplay is based on former Contra Costa Times writer Neil Hayes’ 2003 book, and Jim Caviezel (the actor who played Jesus Christ in The Passion of the Christ) has been cast as Ladouceur.
Ladouceur visited the film’s location over the summer. But don’t think for a minute that Hollywood has gone to his head.
“I really haven’t thought much about the movie,” says Ladouceur, chuckling, “other than thinking it probably wouldn’t ever really be made.”
For more information about the Terrance Kelly Youth Foundation, go to tkyf28.org. —Peter Crooks
Warrior Stephen Curry.
Golden State Warriors fans are known for their loyalty, despite years of losing-record seasons. So the Oakland team’s stellar 2013 run was particularly sweet for the faithful. The Warriors played well in the playoffs, thanks to the emergence of their superstar, point guard Stephen Curry.
Curry led the Warriors to a thrilling series victory against the Denver Nuggets. Then, Golden State challenged the veteran San Antonio Spurs, before losing the series in the sixth game. (The Spurs went on to sweep their way into the NBA finals, making many a Warrior fan wonder, “What if?”)
Curry didn’t just capture the attention of local fans; he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated during the playoff run. And thanks to a smart move by Warriors’ management, the 25-year-old Curry signed a big contract extension at the start of the season—meaning he will keep dazzling Golden State fans for years to come.
For 2013–2014 season ticket information, go to nba.com/warriors. —Peter Crooks
Ryan Coogler directs the movie of the year.
Without question, the most important East Bay–related movie this year—or maybe ever—is Fruitvale Station. The debut feature from filmmaker Ryan Coogler is a poignant, powerful re-creation of the last day in the life of Oscar Grant, the 22-year-old who was shot and killed by a BART police officer on New Year’s Day 2009.
Fruitvale Station features a star-making performance by Michael B. Jordan (Parenthood, Friday Night Lights) as Grant and strong supporting work by Academy Award–winner Octavia Spencer (The Help) as Grant’s mother. But it’s Coogler’s thoughtful screenplay—showing Grant as a troubled young man trying to get his life on track—and Coogler’s assured direction that raise the film to instant classic status.
Critics and audiences have responded with rapturous praise for Fruitvale Station. The film won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in January, and then took the Avenir Prize (for “talent to watch”) at Cannes.
Diablo caught up with 27-year-old Coogler, a longtime Richmond resident, as the filmmaker was preparing for Fruitvale Station’s July release in theaters.
Q: I wanted to start by complimenting the sense of place you capture in Fruitvale Station. The East Bay really becomes a character of its own, more than in any other film I’ve seen.
A: Well, I am from the East Bay and have been here my whole life. And Oscar was born and raised in the Bay Area. So it was important to shoot the movie in the community where this happened. To do it any other way would be a disservice to the story and to the community. We made the choice to shoot at Highland Hospital, San Quentin, the Fruitvale BART station—the actual places that impacted our characters’ lives so much.
Q: In many ways, the realism of the locations and casting reminded me of the Italian neorealist films of the 1940s and 1950s: Those movies were all shot on real locations, and if they wanted to have a baker in the film, they would cast an actual baker, or cast a police officer to play a cop.
A: It’s funny you say that. You may be the first person to make that connection, but [Italian director Vittorio De Sica’s 1948 masterpiece] The Bicycle Thief was a big inspiration for this film.
I really learned a lot about my hometown shooting this film in that style. For example, in the East Bay, BART trains are always going over you, and you hear them in the distance. In San Francisco, they’re underground, but out here they are always visible, or you can hear them. I never noticed that until I made this film.
Q: You picked an amazing actor to play Oscar Grant. Michael B. Jordan gives a mesmerizing performance.
A: Michael is around the same age that Oscar would be today, if he had lived. He is from Newark, New Jersey, so he talks very different than how Oscar would talk, and he moved different than a West Coast guy. He came out before shooting, thanks to the help of the San Francisco Film Society, to meet my friends and Oscar’s friends, and get a feel for how to be a guy from the West Coast.
Michael is a great actor. Just a phenomenal actor. And he has a work ethic that is unmatched. He’s also an incredible team player, which was cool for us. We used a lot of non-actors in supporting roles, and Michael made everyone around him comfortable. He helped them all give better performances.
Q: It must have been exciting to get Octavia Spencer involved in the project, just after she won an Academy Award for The Help.
A: It was amazing for us to get Octavia. I wrote the script with Michael B. Jordan in mind, but I did not know who was going to play the mom.
My agent asked me, “What about Octavia?” And I said, “She just won an Oscar; why would she do this?”
I never thought in a million years that she would say yes. But she did.
Now remember, this was my first time making a feature film, and I was nervous. We cast this incredible actress, but I wondered, What is she going to think of us on this small film? When I met her, all of that just melted away. She is the most warm and positive and funny person that you can ever meet. She threw herself into the role and into the movie. Even when she didn’t need to be on set, she would just come and hang out.
And the most incredible thing she did: When we were halfway through the film, some financing fell out, and she came on board as a producer and helped match those funds.
The film would not have been made without Octavia. Simple as that.
Q: What was your first public screening at Sundance like?
A: Words can’t really describe it. There are a lot of filmmakers who work for a long time
to have an experience like that. I was just incredibly fortunate to have that experience on my first film.
From the beginning, the number-one reason we made this movie was to get the story told out in the world, and to have the story told to people who would not come into contact with a guy like Oscar. The cast and crew were at that screening, as were members of Oscar’s family.
Q: That must have been intense. How did Oscar’s family react to the film?
A: It was very intense. They were very supportive, but it was difficult for them to watch. They were emotionally moved by the film on a lot of different levels. They had to go through these events again. They went through a range of emotions, because we showed the things that Oscar struggled with, all sides of his character.
Q: And what was the experience like taking the film to Cannes?
A: So much went into getting the story told, so to be able to share it with an audience overseas, and share it with an audience that has that Cinema IQ—it was very humbling.
I wanted the story to be about the human relationships in Oscar’s life. The movie is not about the shooting; it’s about a guy trying to connect with the people that he loved and to do right by them, and about a young man who is trying to set his life in the right direction.
It was very special to get the reaction we did overseas with this story about my home.
Q: Finally, I wanted to let you give a shout-out to your Saint Mary’s College English teacher, Rosemary Graham.
A: Oh, Rosemary and I are very close to this day; she’s a dear friend. I met her when I was about 17 years old. I was on a football scholarship at Saint Mary’s. I was majoring in chemistry as an undergrad, and I had to take this creative writing course.
The first assignment was to write about the most emotionally intense experience of our life. So I turned in my paper, and she gave me a call from her office, and said I needed to come to her office hours to talk about the assignment. She said it was an emergency.
I was scared. I was nervous that I was going to get in trouble for what I wrote. But I went, and she sat me down and asked, “What do you want to do when you grow up?”
I told her I wanted to be a doctor because I had always been good at math and science.
She said, “I read your assignment, and it’s so visual: I felt like I was right there.” She said I should go to Hollywood and write screenplays. I did not even know what a screenplay was. I asked, “So I’m not in trouble?”
I went home from that meeting with Rosemary, and I started researching screenplays. Then, I started writing my own screenplays and fell in love with the process.
Fruitvale Station hits Bay Area theaters on July 12. For more information, follow facebook.com/fruitvalestationmovie. —Peter Crooks