Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys tries her hand at movies    ·    April 14th, 2005

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/entertainment/11390926.htm

Given all the awards her music has won, maybe Alicia Keys should set aside some space on the mantel in case her film career takes off the same way.

Keys, 24, recently won her sixth through ninth Grammys, including best R&B album for her 2003 release, “The Diary of Alicia Keys.” Her first five Grammys came for “Songs in A Minor,” the singer’s 2001 debut.

Now she’s on a tour before she steps onto a movie set later this year to star in “Compositions in Black and White.” The movie, produced by Halle Berry and adapted from Kathryn Talalay’s book, recounts the life of child piano prodigy Philippa Schuyler. The biracial musician, daughter of black author George Schuyler and white Texas artist Josephine Cogdell, began composing music at age 4 in the 1930s and struggled with prejudice in the United States before achieving international fame in the ’50s.

It’s a story that has obvious parallels to Keys, who began developing her own musical talent at a young age. She started playing piano at age 7, wrote songs as a teen, majored in choir at the Professional Performance Arts School in Manhattan and enrolled in Columbia University at age 16 before dropping out to focus on music.

Beyond that, though, Keys says she identifies with the idea of “trying to find where you fit in this world.”

She says she is excited about the role.

“It’s the humanness of the character that really talked to me, and I found it something that I would be really interested in,” she said over the phone.

Just digging into the archival material on Schuyler has been a worthwhile experience for Keys.

“They have recordings of her when she was like 7, and I guess there were these construction workers in the house fixing something, and she wrote a song about these workers working,” Keys said. “To be able to hear another perspective on the classical side of someone just creating from reality, that really connected for me.”

Keys has another movie role in the works, too, though the deal isn’t far enough along for her to talk about.

But what makes Keys think she can act? Mostly the fact that she started doing that at a young age, too.

“I acted from when I was little in all types of things that would probably embarrass me now,” she says with a laugh.

Her mother, Terri Augello, is an actress, too, and Keys (born Alicia Augello Cook) remembers spending a lot of time at rehearsals as a little girl.

“She always dragged me to plays that she was rehearsing, and I fell asleep in too many theaters watching her,” Keys said.



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