REST IN PEACE BILL NUNN! As I sit here at home --- on social media, enthusiastically sharing the news about my Morehouse man nephew Herman Lee Riley III and his fellow HBCU alum cast-mates’ on new AspireTV reality web series "The Graduates NYC" (Oct. 8) AND while I’m just a few hours from attending a screening --- with NYC friends and fam --- to see my film debut in the Shaquille-O’Neal-Executive-Produced film STEPS by Eddie Harris, an Official Urbanworld Film Festival Selection, I'm stopped in my tracks with the news that my actual Morehouse College big brother Bill Nunn has passed away! Other Morehouse (big) brother Spike Lee posted it on FACEBOOK. SO I MUST TAKE PAUSE...AND PROCESS THIS LOSS and HIS LEGACY! My condolences to Donna Watts-Nunn and Bill's entire family! This is indeed a MAJOR FULL CIRCLE MOMENT! Bill Nunn is a Morehouse Man, class of 76. His impressive career includes brilliant stage work – often in collaboration with Clark Atlanta University’s own Kenny Leon…and his iconic film work includes his Morehouse buddy Spike Lee’s joints School Daze, Do The Right Thing, and Mo Better Blues. And Bill was a mentor of mine in my early days. On the first week I started Morehouse as part of “1988 freshman orientation”, I had dinner with him at his home where he lived with wife Donna and their kids. I was invited to this mentor dinner along with a handful of other new Morehouse brothers who had interests in TV/Film. Over the years since I graduated and started my career in TV, he'd stayed in touch with me and I kept him updated. I could always bounce anything off of him. And he would let me know – sometimes after the fact – that I played certain career moves well, like when I left Atlanta for New York City. He’d always say that I should do more on-camera and do more acting. Well, fast forward to 2005 when my nephew was in high school in Savannah, GA – deciding on which college he’d attend. Herman asked me to fly down from NYC to Atlanta to accompany him on his college tours (Emory, Georgia State, and Morehouse). It was quite overwhelming for him... on one hand. But he liked the campuses (all of which have differing qualities from each other). Herman said he could "see himself on Morehouse's campus". I stayed in the background on his search as I wanted him to make "his own choice" without my input, but it was nice to hear his take on Morehouse and to see his reaction. The Morehouse campus tour was great... and was met with a nice on-campus surprise. While we were touring, we stumbled into my first mentor when I started Morehouse: Bill Nunn. He yelled my name “PATRICK RILEY! PATRICK RILEY!” This, as he was shooting footage of his freshman dorm Graves Hall for a documentary he was shooting on his life. We rushed up to each other and gave each other a big embrace. We caught up. He even asked me to answer a few questions on-camera since he was there with the crew. I agreed. I then asked him to meet my nephew. He agreed. Bill noted to Noot (my nickname for Herman) that "Your uncle is the best person to tell you about Morehouse, but know that if you come here, you will be with people who care about you and will continue to care about you...". As Bill pointed that out, I got a chance to THANK HIM (on camera as his crew was still shooting us during this moment) for being that mentor who had the kind of caring and sustaining legs he described. Though we didn't talk everyday…and I would only see him a couple of times after that moment. He’d always tell me that he, Kenny Leon, Monty Ross (all contemporaries and close friends of Spike and Samuel L. Jackson) are always peeping my successes and talking about me. So, this reflection reminds me that I did say THANK YOU to him! And it’s on FILM somewhere! But more than that, BILL NUNN’s legacy lives on… through the young Florida A&M University students I’m mentoring as a 2016 William Hearst Visiting Professional at FAMU’s School of Journalism and Graphic Communications (The Dean Ann Wead Kimbrough is a dear college friend of his as well…and she advised me via CAU)….through my nephew and his #THEGRADUATESNYC cast…. through me: independent producer, personality, writer…and – inside this STEPS project – actor....and through that handful of Men of Morehouse who got to benefit from Bill Nunn's kindness and generosity our Freshman Week as we will celebrate 25 YEARS of being Morehouse Men next May 2017! AND SO MANY MORE! I owe a great debt to BILL NUNN! We ALL owe a great debt to BILL NUNN! REST IN PARADISE, RADIO RAHEEM! #DOTHERIGHTTHING#DIDTHERIGHTTHING #SISTERACT
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