BECHIR SYLVAIN as Carl: (Creator, Producer, Writer and Executive Producer)
Bechir Sylvain is a Haitian American Theater trained actor who started his acting career his senior year of high school in Miami, "Go Cougars". He continued his path to Miami Dade College as a theater major before attending the prestigious Acting program at Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas,Texas. Bechir Sylvain is a Co-Founder and Vice President of Ground Up and Rising, an Award-Winning Critically Acclaimed Actor and a proud member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Bechir's performances have been hailed as "phenomenal...jumping deftly from earnest and solicitous to cagey and desperate." (Tampa Tribune) and has been praised for having abilities to "gather into one soul the capacity to murder without remorse and the ability to appreciate the flight of a bird in the sunlight.” (Sun-Sentinel).
Audiences will remember him from his portrayals of Malcolm X from The Meeting, George in Intimate Apparel, Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet, Thami in My Children My Africa, Lucius in Jesus Hopped The A Train, Lincoln in Top Dog /Under Dog, Darius in September 10th, Paul in Six Degrees of Separation, Mister in King Hedley, Tupolski in The Pillowman and City Theatre's nationally recognized Summer Shorts Festival. His directorial debut of Indian Wants The Bronx was widely acclaimed and he has been the primary producer for all Ground Up West Ventures. Bechir's film and television credits include Observe, Know Thy Enemy, Bahama Hustle, Mysterious, Three days to Vegas, Leonard, Burn Notice, Love that Girl and various commercials including but not limited to All State, Bright House, Church's Chicken and Comcast. He is a Carbonell Award Winner for Best Ensemble (Summer Shorts Miami) and has been awarded the Best actor for the Star project at the ABFF 2009 (American Black film festival 2009).
SHEAUN McKINNEY as Larry: (Creator and Writer)
Sheaun McKinney, Co-Founder of Ground Up & Rising, Award-Winning Critically Acclaimed Actor and proud member of Actor's Equity Association (AEA). Sheaun was born and raised in Miami, Florida and is a versatile actor of stage and film. Sheaun began his acting career while in college and has since put together an impressive resume. He has been hailed as "one of the finest actors in South Florida" (Miami New Times) and "A young actor of considerable promise … McKinney delivers a tour-de-force performance.” (Miami Herald). Audiences has seen his passionate work in the characters of Jefferson in A Lesson Before Dying, Booth in Top Dog/Under Dog, Jackson in Melt, Christopher in Blue Orange, Jacob/Austin in House with No Walls, Ardell in The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, Valdez in Jesus Hopped The A Train, Jamal/ Eddie in September 10th and Jesus/Satan in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. He was one of the first artist to be hired by the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts (Miami's foremost performance center).
Sheaun's film/TV credits include the leading role in the Lions Gate/Future Film's Production Know Thy Enemy, Joshua's Soul, Observe, Bahama Hustle, Burn Notice and various commercials including Coca-Cola and Florida Lotto. He has been awarded for (Miami New Times) "Best of Miami" Best Supporting Actor of 2008 and nominated for a Carbonell Award for Best Actor in A Lesson Before Dying.
JASON KELLEY : (Writer)
Jason Kelley is a native of the Northern Virginia/DC area and began acting as far back as the 3 rd grade, playing the Mouse King in The Nutcracker. After honing his chops in the corporate industry, he relocated to Los Angeles and quickly landed his first of many national ad campaigns. He furthered his training at The Second City where he co-founded the black improv ensemble The TuskegeeXperiment which recently began collaborating with will.i.am's new entertainment web portal DipDive.com . In 2009 he was cast in the CBS Diversity Comedy Showcase from which he booked a lead in a pilot presentation currently being shopped at major networks. Other credits include Heroes, Parks & Recreation and the award winning stage show, Inside Private Lives where he portrays Tupac Shakur.
ARTURO FERNANDEZ : (Producer)
Company Co-Founder, Producing Artistic Director, Award-Winning and critically acclaimed Actor/Director. Arturo is the Producing Artistic Director of Ground Up & Rising and has worn multiple hats as Producer, Director, Writer and Actor in many of the company’s productions. He has been called “a quarduple threat” and “a charasmatic energetic young actor” (Miami Herald) and his performances have been hailed as “tour-de-force” and "South Florida best kept secret" (Sun-Sentinel). Audiences will remember Arturo from his portrayals of Angel in Stephen Adly Guirgis’ Jesus Hopped The “A” Train, Joey in Brendan Cochrane’s Joey Shakespeare, Joey/Murph in Israel Horovitz’s The Indian Wants The Bronx, Pavlo in David Rabe’s The Basic Training of Pavlo Hummel, Butch Honeywell in the Florida premiere of Stephen Adly Guirgis’ The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Bobby in John Kolvenbach’s On an Average Day. Arturo was amongst the first artists hired by the Adrienne Arsht Center and spent two great years working on their flagship project.
In addition to his acting credits, Arturo has written and directed his original play September 10th, which played at the region’s most awarded theater GableStage and in Los Angeles’ reknown Odessey Theater before receiving the best new play award for 2008 from the Florida community college activities association for the Miami Dade College production. Arturo has also directed Kenneth Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth at Miami Dade College and oversees the Bridging The Gap mentorship program that has produced over 15 original plays by students and alumni since 2006. In 2008, Arturo produced a collaboration between Ground Up & Rising and critically acclaimed chamber orchestra Project Copernicus to bring Story of A Soldier, an evening combining live theatre and original classical music to commemorate the sacrifices of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Arturo has also conceptualized and created a
variety of site-specific projects for Miami Children’s Museum, Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami-Dade County
Cultural Affairs, ArtSouth and the developing Los Angeles Chapter of the Ground Up & Rising organization.
Arturo’s film and television credits include the lead role of Mike Conner in the feature film, Loving the Bad Man, opposite of Stephen Baldwin as well as the lead role in Ground Up & Rising’s first short feature Observe. His film/television resume also features suporting acting appearances including multiple turns
as Sugar on the hit TV show Burn Notice and Ted White in CO2 with Charlie Murphy along with various commericals in numerious markets including KFC, ESPN, Telemundo, Ritz and Mun2. As a director, Fernandez has received universal critical acclaim such as: “Fernandez has amplified the script with imaginative staging, dramatic lighting and a wide range of music that comments on the proceedings. But his masterstroke is to turn down the volume and speed to let the work breathe in dramatic silences and quiet soliloquies.” (Sun-Sentinel). Under his direction, actors have won the following awards: Best of Miami - Best Actor 2009 (Miami New Times), Best of Miami - Best Supporting Actress 2009 (Miami New Times), Best Actor You Didn’t See 2009 (Sun-Sentinel), Best Of Miami 2008 – Best Supporting Actor (Miami New Times). Productions that he directed have received the following accolades: Best Show you Didn’t See 2009 (Sun-Sentinel), Best of Theater 2008 (Sun-Sentinel), Best of Classical Music 2008 (Miami Herald) and Best of Theater 2006 (Miami Herald).