Who Is the Haitian?

by Latoya Peterson

Arise Magazine has an interview with Jimmy Jean-Louis. Jean-Louis, a model/dancer/actor is best known stateside for portraying “The Haitian” in Heroes. From what I can remember of the Heroes recaps, quite a bit of the snarking revolved around the shrinking role of PoC on the show and the falling ratings. So I was amused to read:

Jean-Louis continues to brood mysteriously on our small screen this autumn as season four of the hugely successful sci-fi drama goes on air. “We are shooting it now, and it’s going great,” Jean-Louis says. So what fantastic superhuman twists and turns can we look forward to? Naturally, his lips are sealed, but you can be sure The Haitian won’t be far from the action. A fixture on the show since the beginning, he’s an ambiguous figure who uses his superpower – an ability to erase people’s memories – sparingly and wisely.

Really? I think I need to check with Arturo on this one…

At any rate, some of the behind the scenes details were revealed:

The role now seems to suited to the 41-year-old actor that it’s hard to believe he first tried out for DL Hawkins (Leonard Roberts). “I auditioned for DL three times, and the producers said ‘No, no, no.’ It was only later, while I was in Africa promoting the film Phat Girlz, that they called my manager and asked me to audition again for another role,” he recalls. “He told them I wasn’t even in town, even after I got back to Los Angeles, until they finally offered the part to me without seeing me, which is unheard of in TV.”

The part was originally meant to be from New Zealand and called The Kiwi but was changed to The Haitian to suit Jean-Louis’ roots. “We went through a few names, but the reaction from the audience to the Haitian was so great that they kept it. And you know what – I like it because it helps me promote Haiti. Heroes has made me a reference for Haiti and has inspired me to go back and help Haiti.”

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Racialicious is a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture. Check out our daily updates on the latest celebrity gaffes, our no-holds-barred critique of questionable media representations, and of course, the inevitable Keanu Reeves John Cho newsflashes.

Latoya Peterson (DC) is the Owner and Editor (not the Founder!) of Racialicious, Arturo García (San Diego) is the Managing Editor, Andrea Plaid (NYC) is the Associate Editor. You can email us at team@racialicious.com.

The founders of Racialicious are Carmen Sognonvi and Jen Chau. They are no longer with the blog. Carmen now runs Urban Martial Arts with her husband and blogs about local business. Jen can still be found at Swirl or on her personal blog. Please do not send them emails here, they are no longer affiliated with this blog.

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