The creator of the hip-hop teen comedy (House Party) and the producer of the first African-American animated film (Bebe's Kids), writer/director Reginald Hudlin worked his way to the forefront of African-American entertainment in the early 2000s. An East St. Louis native whose childhood home was flanked by those of legendary musicians Ike and Tina Turner and Brother Joe May, Hudlin always had inspiration nearby, and was only a brief walk away from Cosmo Hall, the location often cited as the birthplace of rock & roll. It was during his time at Harvard that Hudlin truly began to realize his talent as a filmmaker, and his 20-minute thesis film House Party eventually formed the basis for his first feature of the same name. A breakthrough success when released in 1990, the film was a hit with critics and audiences alike, and not only spawned a franchise, but also proved to be the catalyst for a wave of hip-hop teen comedies that would flourish at the box office in years to come.
The pressure to craft a solid follow-up was high, and with the Eddie Murphy comedy Boomerang, Hudlin successfully avoided the dreaded sophomore slump. Not only did the film score a direct hit at the box office with a 130-million-dollar worldwide take, but the soundtrack went double platinum and launched the career of popular singer Toni Braxton. It was also during this period that Hudlin wrote and served as a co-executive producer of the popular animated comedy Bebe's Kids, which featured the voice of House Party's Robin Harris. As the 1990s progressed, Hudlin brought his talents to television, and though the Twilight Zone-inspired HBO series Cosmic Slop (hosted by none other than grandmaster of funk George Clinton) scored high with critics and audiences, it quickly disappeared from the airwaves. Hudlin did, however, earn a Cable ACE Award for his episode "Space Traders." Hudlin's third film, the Samuel L. Jackson comedy-satire The Great White Hype, may have drawn only mediocre reviews, but it still managed to score better than his next effort, the abysmal Saturday Night Live character feature The Ladies Man, which immediately tanked at the box office. His 2002 comedy Serving Sara didn't fare much better, despite a talented cast which included Matthew Perry and Elizabeth Hurley.
Focusing his efforts more intently on the small screen, Hudlin garnered kudos for his production/direction work on three series in particular: The groundbreaking Bernie Mac Show on Fox, Chris Rock's nostalgic Everybody Hates Chris, and the acclaimed Boondocks animated series on the Cartoon Network. These sorts of efforts made him the perfect candidate to lead one of the most venerable channels on basic cable, and in the summer of 2005, Hudlin was named president of the Black Entertainment Network, where he would spearhead a successful mix of music, reality, documentary and fictional programming. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi