Thursday, February 17, 2011

Heroes Of Blaxploitation: Brenda Sykes

Day Seventeen:

The adorable Brenda Sykes (b.1949) appeared on TV's The Dating Game in the late 60's and immediately caught the fascination and attention of casting directors. She soon found herself thrown into the acting world with bit roles on TV in shows like Mayberry RFD and Room 222, but notably she was cast in The Liberation Of L.B. Jones (1970) directed by cinema legend William Wyler.

Sykes' small role in Liberation in effect liberated her career and led to other parts in films like Richard Rush's Getting Straight (1970), playing a resident hottie in the high school murder mystery and personal favorite of mine Pretty Maids All In A Row (1971) directed by Roger Vadim. There was also the absorbing Television Movie The Sheriff (1971) and Skin Game (1971) starring James Garner and Louis Gossett Jr.

The world of Blaxploitation films came-a-calling and Brenda answered. She had a lead in Honky (1971), starred alongside Jim Brown in Black Gunn (1972) and Cleopatra Jones (1973). Around that time she also landed a role on the TV Series Ozzie's Girls (1973) with Ozzie & Harriet as well as a part in the TV Pilot Young Love (1973. Sykes appeared in several guest starring roles on Television but returned to the genre with roles in the high profile Blaxploitation film Mandingo (1975) and it's sequel Drum (1976).

Brenda Sykes continued working in television through the rest of the 70's and had a co-starring role on the series Executive Suite (1976-77). She soon left acting after good roles were starting to dry up for women of color and hasn't looked back since.

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