Edwin Lee Gibson was born and raised in Houston, Texas. He began acting as part of the much-heralded Ross S. Sterling High School Drama Club. Edwin was paid as an actor at age sixteen in a city-sponsored summer drama program. As a sophomore in college at Texas Southern University, a chance meeting with the late, famed female actor, Esther Rolle, led to a role opposite her in a two-person show. After college, Edwin spent eight years as a company member of The Ensemble Theatre in Houston. While working locally and touring in the theatre, Edwin was also garnering success in the comedy world by writing and performing sketch comedy and improvisation at Houston’s Comedy Workshop, then as a stand-up comic.
In 1995, Edwin moved to New York City. His knack for spinning characters and text made him a commodity first on the fringe of New York theatre, then Off Broadway working with artists such as Michael John Garces, Carmen Rivera, Deb Margolin and later Kia Karthron, Jo Bonney, Bill T. Jones and Will Power. After meeting with Mr. Power, Edwin was awarded the principal role in Powers’ 2006 Lortell Award winning musical, The Seven. In the role of Oedipus, Gibson received overwhelming critical and commercial acclaim culminating with a 2006 OBIE Award for Outstanding Performance and the cover of that week’s Village Voice.
Edwin is also an accomplished playwright having had four of his six plays produced in New York City. His first play, a solo work entitled, Anatomy of a Knucklehead , ran for 127 performances over eight months in NYC. In 2008, he received a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Artist Commission for his fourth play, Placebo. In 2009 he received another NEA Artist Commission and a Mondo Cane Commission for his fifth play, Five ‘Til: Solo.
Lastly, Mr. Gibson is a lecturer having lectured at Yale University, New York University, S.U.N.Y. Purchase College, and Ithaca College. He has worked as a guest artist at Princeton University, City College of New York, and Youngstown State University. Edwin is a member of Actor’s Equity Association, The Writers’ Guild of America and New York Theatre Workshop’s Usual Suspects.
Aki Jamal is a proud son of the city of Pittsburgh, PA. Aki has demonstrated equal comfort and ease as a professional in countless settings on television, stage and radio. An aspiring actor, writer, voice over talent, skilled visual artist and graphic designer, Aki is an active member of Mt. Ararat Baptist Church and has used his gifts in the music and fine arts ministry (Male Chorus), marriage ministry (Mt. Ararat Theological Academy/TWOgether Pittsburgh), Mount TV, and as a contributor to “The Manhood Project”. He has served as a host and master of ceremonies for events, showcases and venues throughout the Pittsburgh region and can currently be seen on BlipTV and iTunes in his recurring role on the web based sitcom “The Baristas” and the web based variety show “The Angle”.
Carter Redwood is a Pittsburgh native currently pursuing his BFA in Acting at Carnegie Mellon University. He grew up performing on stage, but thus far in his career, he has also been fortunate enough to do commercial, print and voiceover work. Carter most recently finished filming Underdogs where he can be seen alongside D.B. Sweeney and Melora Walters. Some of his other film credits include: Mafia starring Ving Rhames, The Recall, 17 Days, Anything Goes, and Chinese Restaurant. Carter is also a founding member of the August Wilson Center Theatre Ensemble where he was last seen as Cory in Fences. Some of his other theatre credits include: the World Premiere of When January Feels Like Summer (City Theatre); Disney’s High School Musical (Pittsburgh CLO); Angry Black Man Poetry (Teatr Slaski, in Katowice, Poland); When the Water Turns Clear, Nine Days in the Sun (Pittsburgh Playwrights’ Theatre Co.); Jelly’s Last Jam, Sarafina! (Kuntu Rep); Lost in the Stars (Opera Theater of Pittsburgh); Great Expectations (Prime Stage); and Blue (New Horizon Theater). He thanks his family and friends for their continued support.
LaMar Darnell Fields was born and raised in Pittsburgh PA. Fields began acting in his mid teens when he accompanied a friend to an audition. While there, he was persuaded to audition and was cast as the lead role. After two plays with the Wings For Success Company he decided to focus on music. He moved to New York and studied audio engineering and music production at the Institute of Audio Research. It wasn’t until his late twenties that he picked up acting again, and made the decision to act full time. Fields worked with the Kuntu Repertory Theatre, New Horizon Theatre, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, HLN Productions, Shona Sharif Drum and Dance Ensemble, Stop and Watch Films, Orchard Place Productions, Zeno Films, Confluence Productions, Words with Wings, plus multiple 48 hour films and notable commercials including the “Debt Monkey” commercial. Fields is continuing to work very hard on furthering his acting career, with multiple projects in the works. He has most recently been awarded Best Actor by the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre for his performance in the 2012 Black and White Festival.
Sundiata El Rice was born on March 7, 2000 in Pittsburgh, PA. Rice has been involved in many sports and is a very accomplished martial artist. Sundi, as his family calls him, is a high honor roll student and has been for years.
At the age of 10, Sundiata stated, along with his brothers, he would be as famous as Denzel Washington one day and after seeing the remake of, “The Karate Kid,” with Jaden Smith, Sundiata began asking his parents daily if they could find him an agent, or agency that would help him become an actor. Soon afterwards, his parents stumbled upon an ad for a local casting call. This was the opportunity Sundiata and his parents were waited. During the audition process Sundiata was very nervous but when it was time to perform, he blew the producers and his parents away. His plans going forward are to continue working with an acting coach, and to gain more exposure and feature roles.
Arthur Thompkins is 15 years old and currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA. Arthur is a tremendous student with a 3.4 GPA and an athlete at Woodland Hills High School. Only in the 10th grade, Arthur was a varsity running back for the 2012-2013 AAAA championship runner up Woodland Hills Wolverines.
Jordan Rivers was born May 8, 2002 and at just 10 years old, this serious students is focus on maintaining a 4.0 GPA in school. He was very excited about the opportunity to act in Blood First and hopes that it is the first of many opportunities to appear on screen.
Katherine "Toi" Macklin is the mother of two children, Jordan Rivers and Chyane Kenidi. Having had her life so deeply touched by senseless violence, after losing the love of her life, Toi decided to live each day as if it were her last by pursuing all of her dreams and encouraging her children to do the same. In 2009 when Toi watched, “Precious,” starring the then unknown actress Gabourey Sidibe, who like herself, had no formal training, she decided to pursue acting. In 2012 Toi auditioned for Blood First and received her first of hopefully many roles to come.
Lisa Robins is a Cleveland, OH native who is working on making a positive impact in the film industry as an actress and as a plus size model. Lisa has participated in various webisodes, local theaters, pilot tapings, and photoshoots. She also has many years of experience working in various nonprofit organizations in the greater Cleveland area. Lisa has a master's degree from John Carroll University in Nonprofit Administration.
Kiyonna Harris is best known for her role of "Bunny" in the movie, “Blood First.” She was born in Pittsburgh, PA and made an appearance on Mr. Rogers Neighborhood as a child. She is a mother of 3 boys and the second oldest child of 5 siblings.