The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Blackness
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Jo Jo Dancer, You Life Is Calling (1986)

"Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling" (1986) is a biographical drama written, directed, produced, and starring Richard Pryor. Paul Mooney and Rocco Urbisci co-wrote the film with Pryor. The movie features an excellent cast, including Debbie Allen, Paula Kelly, Art Evans, Carmen McRae, Barbara Williams, and Michael Ironside. Pryor loosely based this film on some of his life experiences, mainly when he burned himself while freebasing. In the movie, Pryor has an out-of-body experience as an alter ego while his life flashes before his eyes. 

This movie has a vibe comparable to another film Pryor appeared in, known as "Lady Sings the Blues." Both movies show the struggles of Black entertainers in the industry. "Jo Jo Dancer" was Pryor's first and only film he directed that earned a theatrical release. It was a movie close to him, and he wanted to show his audience the tribulations he faced in becoming a comedian. Since people mostly know Pryor as a comedian, many of his dramatic roles go unnoticed. "Jo Jo Dancer" is an excellent example of Pryor's acting range.

Director: Richard Pryor
Writers: Richard Pryor, Paul Mooney, Rocco Urbisci

Starring Richard Pryor, Debbie Allen, Art Evans, Fay Hauser, Barbara Williams, Carmen McRae, Paula Kelly, Diahnne Abbott, Scoey Mitchell, Billy Eckstine, Tanya Boyd, Wings Hauser, E'Lon Cox, Michael Ironside, J.J. Barry, Mike Genovese, Marlene Warfield, Virginia Capers, Dennis Farina, Frederick Coffin, Richard Grossman, Ken Foree

As Dancer lies hospitalized in a coma, his spiritual alter ego revisits his life, from growing up in a brothel as a child and struggling to beat the long odds to become a top-rated comedian. However, his success leads to extensive drug use and womanizing that takes its toll on his life. It affects every relationship, including his marriages. Jo Jo's spirit watches and attempts to convince his past self to end the cycle of self-destruction.