Some victims of Katrina are still listed as missing.
There has been some controversy about children listed who have yet to be found. There’s also been complaints that children have already been heard from or have been re/united with parents, relatives or friends of family–but NOT taken off missing lists. This diary, however, is about one of those children listed as missing since September 10.
Do you remember the film, Monster’s Ball?
You know, the film that won Halle Berry (as Leticia Musgrove) the Academy Award in 2002?
Do you remember the ten-year-old boy who played Tyrell Musgrove, Leticia Musgrove’s chocolate-obsessed son?
You know, this little boy sitting next to Halle Berry.
Well, he’s about 13 years old now. He lived in or near New Orleans. And he may not be alive.
I was touched by the film, Monster’s Ball. So touched, that I thought about writing a book about it as well.
I decided to shelve the project because I felt that my novel was more important. Before that decision, I had even managed to interview one of the screenwriters.
However, I helped to put together this entry at Wikipedia regarding the film. And yeah, it has engendered some controversy as indicated in the discussion section over my showing that not all blacks loved the movie.
I did some revision of the entry this afternoon and decided to do a Google search of Coronji Calhoun, the youth who played Tyrell Musgrove. And was startled to find that he was listed as missing and not yet found.
Tyrell was a sad, beautiful young soul. I got the feeling that within this character was the soul of Coronji, too. Coronji, I believe, should have gotten an Oscar nomination. Tyrell was artistic and shy, and like Coronji, loved food too much. While there is little information available about what Coronji’s home life was like, it’s logical to assume that he probably had only one immediate parent, his mother. Tyrell also deeply missed and loved his soon-to-be executed daddy. Did Coronji miss his father? Tyrell’s bloody death from a hit-and-run driver in the film horrified and hurt my heart.
Unfortunately, not that many child actors become adult actors. Usually, it also takes a lot of effort, time and money from parent(s) to keep their children working. Then, there is no guarantee that interest in a child or immediate stardom will continue beyond a certain age. This boy, I think, could have continued working for a time, like Raushan Hammond who played the Lost Boy ThudButt in Hook, and who first inherited Tootles’ happy thoughts and then Peter Pan’s sword at its conclusion.
That life–full of highs, lows and frustrations–was probably not meant for Coronji. He may have been too far away from Hollywood and too close to poverty.
At any rate, Coronji made a little money for himself and his family for taking a one-shot opportunity to work in ‘a Hollywood movie.’
Coronji was chosen from an open casting call and was given the minimum union scale, probably from the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). That could have been anywhere from $500-$700 per day, depending on what the contract entailed. Here’s an explanation of what a casting call is:
When an audition does not employ any presifting, and all comers are heard, it is often referred to as a cattle-call. In most cases the actors who are most suited for roles are given a callback, which means they are invited to read again to help those doing the casting to make up their minds. At a callback one actor is often reading against others, meaning that they are being compared. One of the things that a director is looking for in a callback is the actor’s ability to take direction.
Apparently Coronji filled that bill. Especially when it came to particularly painful scenes when Halle as Leticia was mistreating the boy. From Wiki:
Berry discussed working with Coronji, including the scene where she as Leticia struck him for hiding candy. “Marc (the director) and I were talking to him, saying this is just a movie, and I kept saying, everything I do and say, it’s not real. I really think you’re wonderful. And he said, ‘Well, whatever you do to me, Halle Berry, it isn’t going to be worse than what the kids at school do to me.'”
If Coronji was nearly ten in 2001 when Monster’s Ball was made, then he must be about 13 now. While many survivors or their friends/family members have listed missing children, many have been found without contacting agencies like the Katrina List Network or the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). He could be with his mother or with other family members.
Or he may not.
I hope (and pray) that he is still with us.
And not only just Coronji.
While between 1,000-1,300 children may be missing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the levee flood disaster that followed in New Orleans, the state of Louisiana is disputing that figure, according to the Chicago Tribune:
Almost three months after Hurricane Katrina struck, the faces of hundreds of missing children are still posted all over the Internet. Their names and descriptions are on computerized lists on Web sites for everyone to see.
But officials in Louisiana, where almost all of the children lived, insist there are no missing children from the state.
The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children now lists 874 children from Louisiana, compared with 4,470 children reported missing after the hurricane struck. The list also includes 28 children from Mississippi, down from the initial 336, and three from Alabama, down from the original 39.
The large number of Louisiana children listed by the national center remains a stark contrast to reports from the state.
Nanette White, spokeswoman for the Louisiana Department of Social Services, said the agency never had more than 50 children officially reported missing. All of them have been found.
She said the state ended its search this month after locating the last of the 2,000 foster children displaced during the storm.
“We don’t have any more missing children. If there were thousands of children missing in Louisiana, we don’t know who they are,” said White, adding that the national center’s numbers apparently are inaccurate. “We stand by our numbers.”