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 ‘We Grown Now,’ Film Starring Birmingham’s Blake James, 13, Now in Area Theatres

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Thirteen-year-old Birmingham native Blake James can be seen in “We Grown Now.” Blake plays Malik, one of two young boys who discover the joys and hardships of growing up in the sprawling Cabrini-Green public housing complex in 1992 Chicago. (Sony Pictures)

The Birmingham Times

Thirteen-year-old Blake James is back home. And he can be seen in area theatres starring in “We Grown Now” playing at AMC Summit 16 in the Summit in Birmingham and the Regal Trussville in Trussville.

The film debuted in September 2023 at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the Changemaker Award.

See trailer here

Blake plays Malik one of two young boys with best friend Eric (Gian Knight Ramirez) who discover the joys and hardships of growing up in the sprawling Cabrini-Green public housing complex in 1992 Chicago.

The young actor from Birmingham has spent a lot of time away from home with s resume that includes jobs with Nickelodeon, Kellogg’s, AT&T and Sony Pictures.

He also appeared in “The Sound of Christmas,” a Black Entertainment Television (BET) original movie, with Grammy-award-winning artist Ne-Yo. Blake displayed both his acting chops and his singing talent, which impressed Ne-Yo so much that he affectionately gave the young actor the title of “Big Blake.”

Blake is not only good at what he does, but he enjoys the excitement of the entertainment industry.

“I just love being around the cast and crew members and acting. I know it’s a cliché, but when they say ‘Action,’ it’s an adrenaline rush,” Blake told the Birmingham Times in a 2023 interview. He got his start in the entertainment industry in 2022, when he was completing sixth grade at Berry Middle School in Hoover, Alabama.

Blake “didn’t even make the graduation,” he said, as he began work on his first project for the Nickelodeon television network and his first-ever television project, “Little Lens: Everyday Life Through the Eyes of Black Children.” One of the segments, titled “Meet My Hero,” featured Blake sharing memorable stories that helped shape his life.

Blake James also appeared in “The Sound of Christmas,” a Black Entertainment Television (BET) original movie, with Grammy-award-winning artist Ne-Yo. (File)

While “Little Lens” was Blake’s first television project, there was also an AT&T commercial in which he was cast as the lead of the children who interacted with NBA Hall of Famer and Alabama native Charles Barkley. Blake’s dad, business entrepreneur Cameron James, 45, says he was nervous for his son at this particular audition because Blake wasn’t sure which role he’d score until the very last moment.

“As he was walking on set, he didn’t know which character he would be cast as,” said Cameron. “He said, ‘Dad, I’m alright. I know [all the characters’] lines. Whoever I’m supposed to be, I got it.’”

For Blake, that’s the fun part of his job. Learning his lines, he said, is “like studying for a test, but it’s more fun than studying for a test. People always ask me how I memorize the lines, but it’s easy to do. And I memorize other characters, too, so I’ll know when to say my lines.”

Blake told The Times that the biggest challenge is, “hands down, being away from family and friends.”

“When I’m on location, I have friends, but it’s not the same as being with your best friends at home,” he said.

Blake’s parents, Tuesday and Cameron James say they will not push him, but they will continue to support him as more projects come his way.

Blake keeps it simple: “I want to be as successful as I can and spread the word of God.”