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Home | ArtMakers | Charles Weldon
Color: Brown
Food: Chicken enchiladas
Quote: from Richard Pryor, declines to recite it
Season: Fall
Vacation Destination: Noossa Heads Australia
Wetumka, Oklahoma United States
Interview Description:

Biography |

Interview Date: 10/24/2016 |and| 11/7/2016

Actor and artistic director Charles Weldon was born in Wetumka, Oklahoma on June 1, 1940 to Beatrice Jennings. At the age of seven, his family moved to Bakersfield, California, where he worked in nearby cotton fields until the age of seventeen, when he joined the local doo-wop group, The Paradons.

After the success of their 1960 hit single, “Diamonds and Pearls,” The Paradons eventually dissolved, leaving Weldon to work a series of odd jobs and performing with the soul group, Blues For Sale, before discovering his love of acting. Weldon’s sister, the actress Ann Weldon, introduced him to the theater group Dialogue Black/White, which was producing Oscar Brown, Jr.’s Big Time Buck White. After appearing in the musical Hair at Geary Theater in San Francisco, California, Weldon accepted Brown’s offer to go to New York City and perform in the renamed Buck White, starring Muhammad Ali in his only Broadway appearance. In 1970, Weldon joined the three-year-old Negro Ensemble Company and performed in Joseph Walker’s Ododo. In 1973, he starred in Paul Carter Harrison’s The Great MacDaddy and played “Skeeter” in Joseph Walker’s The River Niger, the Negro Ensemble Company’s must successful production at that point. The 1976 film version of this play had him appearing alongside stars James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson. Weldon also appeared in several other Hollywood movies including the caper Who's Minding the Mint? . His film credits include Serpico (1975), Stir Crazy (1980), Fast Walking (1982), Spike Lee’s Malcolm X (1992), and The Wishing Tree (1999). Throughout his film career, Weldon continued to perform with the Negro Ensemble Company, acting in Charles Fuller’s A Soldier’s Play in 1981. He appeared in several television mini-series, including A Woman Called Moses (1978) and Roots: The Next Generation (1979). His television credits also include Sanford and Son, Hill Street Blues, Kojak, St. Elsewhere, L.A. Law, and Law & Order. In 2004, Weldon was named artistic director of the Negro Ensemble Company. Under his guidance, the company averted bankruptcy, eliminated its debt, and expanded its educational mission. Additionally, Weldon directed Leslie Lee’s Blues in a Broken Tongue, Jimmy Barden’s Offspring, Samm Art-Williams’ The Waiting Room, and Layon Gray’s WEBEIME. Weldon also produced the Negro Ensemble Company’s Sundown Names and Night-Gone Things.

Co-founder of the Negro Ensemble Company, Inc.’s Alumni Organization, Weldon received the Audelco Award for best supporting actor, the Remy award for best leading actor, and the 2006 Henry Award for the Best Supporting Actor in August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean.

Weldon lives in New York, New York.

Charles Weldon was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on October 24, 2016.

Speaker Bureau Notes: