Stomp the Yard
Cuban-American actor Laz Alonso, a former investment banker on Wall Street, started out as a television host on "A.M. @ BET" (2000) and "NYLA" (2001) for Black Entertainment Television. He has since appeared in such TV series as "The Practice," "CSI: Miami" and "Navy NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service" and "One on One." Moviegoers could catch him in Down to Earth (2001), Hittin' It! (2004), Constantine (2005), Jarhead (2005) and Stomp the Yard (2007). He will appear in the upcoming films Captivity, Divine Intervention, and This Christmas.
Childhood and Family:
"I was actually born in D.C. but I'm the first American in my family. I do have great memories of Cuba. I visited all the time as a child and have a bigger family there than I do here in the states. All of my relatives there are my age so it's difficult because they are the ones that I have the most in common with." Laz Alonso.
In Washington, District of Columbia, Laz Alonso, whose both parents are Cuban, was raised in a single-parent household after his father died when he was very young. His neighborhood was predominantly African-American, and in high school, he spent time with a lot of Dominicans.
Laz, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, studied Marketing at the Howard University, the renowned historically black university in D.C. During his free time, Laz enjoys playing music with his band, Karma Kid Entertainment.
From Wall Street to Hollywood
"I hated Wall Street! Actually it wasn't that I hated it, but when you know you're doing something that isn't your passion, it feels like you're wasting time regardless of the money you're making." Laz Alonso.
A Marketing graduate from the Howard University, Laz Alonso found his first job as an investment banker on Wall Street for Merill Lynch. Dreaming of becoming an actor from an early age, he later quit to pursue an acting career. He began finding work in commercials including for Burger King, Lincoln Navigator, Budweiser, Pontiac, Outback Steakhouse and Budweiser. He also appeared in a number of videos, notably in Toni Braxton's video "Hit the Freeway" and Aaliyah's video and tribute "Miss You."
Alonso subsequently landed TV job, starting as a television host on "A.M. @ BET" (2000) and "NYLA" (2001) for Black Entertainment Television. He also appeared in an HBO movie adapted from Terry McMillan's romantic novel, Disappearing Acts (2000; starring Wesley Snipes and Sanaa Lathan), directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, and had a significant role in writer-director Vanessa Middleton's romantic drama comedy movie 30 Years to Life (2001).
Next, Alonso was seen in the film version of Donald Goines' novel, Crime Partners 2000 (2001), the Weitz Brothers' 2001 remake of the 1978 romantic comedy film, Down to Earth (starring Chris Rock and Regina King) and Brin Hill's 17-minute film Morning Breath (2002). Additionally, he was cast in Christopher Scott Cherot's romantic drama film G (2002; starring Richard T. Jones), Felix Olivier's gritty drama All Night Bodega (2002) and starred as Rory in the horror/comedy Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (2003; V), opposite Warwick Davis. 2003 also saw Alonso in that year’s Alayé calendar.
Alonso also appeared as a guest in such TV series as ABC legal drama "The Practice" (2 episodes; 2003), spin-off of the popular CBS network series "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "CSI: Miami" (in 2004), CBS drama "Navy NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service" (in 2004), and ABC short-lived crime drama "Eyes" (in 2005). Additionally, he had a recurring role on UPN sitcom "One on One" from 2003 to 2006.
Meanwhile, moviegoers could catch him in David Daniel's comedy Hittin' It! (2004; with Walker Howard, Maurice Patton and AJ Johnson), Francis Lawrence's film adaptation of the Hellblazer comic book, Constantine (2005; starring Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz), and Sam Mendes' war drama based on former Marine Anthony Swofford's best-selling 2003 book, Jarhead (2005; starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Jamie Foxx and Peter Sarsgaard). He also co-starred as Damien, a playboy real-estate agent in writer-director Van Elder's comedy Issues (2005).
2006 saw Alonso in writer-director Rafael Riera's quirky romantic comedy movie Bunny Whipped, Danny Green's little seen adaptation of Bernard Malamud's Pulitzer-winning novel from 1971, The Tenants (starring Dylan McDermott and Snoop Dogg), and writer-director Russ Parr's drama/comedy The Last Stand. His latest film, Stomp The Yard, was released on January 12, 2007. In the drama/musical film, directed by Sylvain White and stars alongside Columbus Short, Meagan Good and Ne-Yo, Alonso starred as a frat boy named Zeke, the Gamma’s campus president.
“Not sure if this will truly be a breakout role, being that I'm not carrying the film, but I am looking forward to seeing the final product. I really liked the project...it's a black college film and being a Spike Lee fan, I've always wanted to be in a movie which reminds me of the genre that made him popular… It's a coming of age story about a kid growing up in LA and really into dancing and battling. He gets into some trouble and his parents send him to Atlanta to live with his grandparents and they enroll him in school where he sees that life is a lot different from what he's used to. That's when the drama really begins!... I like my character because he's a leader. He's the head of his fraternity and keeps everybody in check. I like the positive nature of my character and what he represents, which is a positive black young man with values and class.” Laz Alonso (on Stomp The Yard (2007)).
Alonso just wrapped Roland Joffe's upcoming psychological thriller film, Captivity, in which he plays a detective on the trail of a serial killer alongside Elisha Cuthbert and Daniel Gillies. It is scheduled for release from Lions Gate Entertainment on March 16, 2007. He will also star in writer-director Van Elder's romantic comedy movie Divine Intervention and Preston A. Whitmore II's Christmastime drama film This Christmas, alongside Columbus Short, Nia Long, Mekhi Phifer and Regina King.
Giving advice for aspiring actors hoping to follow in his footsteps, Alonso said: “To sincerely work from the heart. Once you can make another's words sound and feel like they're your own you are putting heart in your work.”