Cassandra Freeman succeeds on stage, TV and film 

Not many up-and-coming actresses can boast that their debut role was in a blockbuster movie and with an A-list Hollywood actor. But Cassandra Freeman can.

The 23-year-old from West Palm Beach, Fla., received her first big break playing Denzel Washington’s girlfriend in Spike Lee’s crime thriller "Inside Man." For her second big film role, she appears with Chris Rock in the new dramedy "I Think I Love My Wife."

"I’ve always wanted to work with Chris, too," Freeman says during a recent telephone interview from her home in Los Angeles. "He’s such a natural and just an everyday, real kind of guy. Everyone knows he’s funny. But he’s just a genuinely cool person. And ‘I Think I Love My Wife’ is his best movie. His character Richard gives a new spin on the old marital seven-year itch."

Freeman plays Jennifer, an upper-middle-class married woman who is best friends with the wife of Rock’s character.

"I’m trying to help her out emotionally, as Chris has met an old friend," she says. "Actually, she’s an old, beautiful curvaceous friend named Nikki [played by Kerry Washington]. She enters the picture and openly flirts with Richard even though he’s married."

Although "I Think I Love My Wife" is geared toward an African-American audience, it should have universal appeal, Freeman says.

"Everybody loves Chris," she says. "And anyone who has been in a relationship, much less married, has probably had a similar situation like this occur or at least knows someone who has."

Freeman started her acting career doing showcases at New York University. "I love the stage because it feels so real," says Freeman, who appeared in "Intimate Apparel" at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis and performed the "Vagina Monologues" with Jane Fonda, Rosie Perez and Margo Kidder at the Ruby Diamond Theatre in Tallahassee, Fla.

But she also likes moving between the stage, movies and television.

While she was filming "Inside Man," a casting agent noticed her from an NYU showcase and asked her to read for the CBS soap opera "Guiding Light." She got the part. Since then she has also enjoyed a recurring role on the CBS drama "Numbers."

"As clichéd as it sounds, I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time," she says. "This is an exciting time for television actors — especially those of color. Television has broken a lot of new ground. I mean, look at ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’ What I’m seeing that I like about TV now is everything isn’t ending on a happy note. I think some of that is happening because cable, HBO and Showtime and others continue to raise the bar and make amazing movies."

If her dreams came true, Freeman would star in a film biography of Diana Ross. She says, "Diana Ross has contributed so much to not just black music but black beauty. She’s just a living legend and I think her story needs to be brought to the big screen. I think someone out there is just waiting for me to do it."

Contact Lana K. Wilson-Combs at www.N2Entertainment.net.

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