As the multitalented, transgender Angel in both the stage and film versions of the acclaimed musical "Rent," Wilson Jermaine Heredia wowed audiences for years with a standout performance among standou...
A modern take on Puccini’s classic opera La Boheme Rent isn’t a complicated story. Set on the brink of the ‘90s we meet a group of er bohemians living in a rundown tenement in New York’s East Village struggling with AIDS eviction and creative ways to express themselves. The denizens include a budding documentary filmmaker Mark (Anthony Rapp); his rock musician roommate Roger (Adam Pascal); the stripper drug addict Mimi (Rosario Dawson) who lives downstairs; Mark’s ex-girlfriend edgy performance artist Maureen (Idina Menzel) and her new lawyer girlfriend Joanne (Tracie Thoms); street-drumming drag queen Angel (Wilson Jermaine Heredia) and his handsome boyfriend philosopher professor Tom Collins (Jesse L. Martin). When their fraught way of life in their beloved ‘hood is threatened by expanding corporate gentrification orchestrated by Mark ’s former roommate Benny (Taye Diggs) the group does what we’d all like to do--sing. And sing and… Non-musical fans may need a breather but at least the songs by Jonathan Larson (the show’s young composer who died suddenly before opening night) are MTV ready and vital to the storytelling. Casting most of Rent’s original Broadway stars is definitely a plus. Menzel Rapp Heredia (who won a Tony for his role) Diggs Martin and Pascal understand what it takes to make this story come alive and how to really belt out those songs. But the fact they are all mostly stage performers you get the feeling watching these talented thespians that they never stop wanting to give 110 percent which may come off over the top for the big screen. A seasoned film actor like Dawson (Sin City 25th Hour) is at an advantage. She understands the requisite subtleties of acting for the camera and gives a tour-de-force performance as Mimi all at once seductive sad and oh-so-tortured. Dawson is certainly one to look out for during this awards season. Wow director Chris Columbus sure is gutsy. Not only did he revive the long-stalled project from years in development limbo but he also had to live up to the high expectations of the Broadway show’s cultish fan base. Of course he isn’t a stranger to appeasing the masses having helmed the first two Harry Potter movies but ultimately with Rent Columbus turns out to be the wrong man for the job. The film is fairly static without much creative flair--and very long. Spike Lee was originally attached for the longest time. Imagine that film for a moment. Still to be fair to Columbus turning Rent into a movie is just plain difficult because it is NOT a cinematic story. It’s an opera--a good opera with lots of great pulse-pounding heart-wrenching songs but an opera nonetheless. Fans of the show or “Rent-Heads” as they are lovingly referred to should be happy with this big-screen version but once again I was left wishing I’d seen it on stage.
Acting debut playing Angel, the spirited drag queen "Rent," the off-Broadway musical by Jonathan Larson
Starred in Joel Schumacher’s "Flawless" starring Robert DeNiro and Philip Seymour Hoffman
Feature debut, opposite Jon Cryer in "Went to Coney Island on a Mission From God... Be Back by Five"
Collaborated with Dawson and Thoms, his "Rent" co-stars for the feature "Descent"
Continued on with the production of "Rent" to made his Tony award winning Broadway debut
Reprised the role of Angel for the big-screen adaptation of Jonathan Larson's Tony-winning musical "Rent"
Re-created this role in the original London production of "Rent"; garnered an Olivier nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical
Danced in (and was choreographer for) several music videos including "Joli" and "Josue de Jesus"
As the multitalented, transgender Angel in both the stage and film versions of the acclaimed musical "Rent," Wilson Jermaine Heredia wowed audiences for years with a standout performance among standout performances. <p>Heredia was born and raised in Brooklyn. Despite his strong acting and music talents, he originally studied medicine and considered going into advertising. But strong influences from his musically inclined mother and father - even though they weren't in showbiz - helped convince him to perform. Developing his interest in acting on the side, legend has it that Heredia was working in a railway station when he saw an ad for auditions for the musical "Rent," and responded because he could use the money. <p>The gamble paid off, and Heredia landed the part of Angel, a character who most epitomized the play's story of young artists forming their identities and suffering from AIDS in New York City's East Village. Heredia won the 1996 Tony Award for best actor in a musical. He went on to play the character in the London stage version, and then in director Chris Columbus' 2005 film adaptation. <p>Heredia first appeared on film in 1998's "Went to Coney Island on a Mission From God Be Back By Five," along with Jon Cryer and Ione Sky. He appeared next in the J l Schumacher film "Flawless" in 1999, and showed up in guest spots on "Spin City" and "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit." <p>He was set to appear in director Robert Altman's 2006 release, "Descent," where he rejoins Tracie Thoms, his co-star from the film version of "Rent." He also appeared in the films "Nailed," scheduled for release in 2006, and "Johnny Was" in 2005, for which he was also a producer.