Evans native Keith Robinson is having his best Christmas ever.
The actor and singer plays C.C. White in the movie Dreamgirls, which stars Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy and Beyonce Knowles. The Dreamworks film opens Monday.
"When I found out I got the role in Dreamgirls, it kind of represented my career coming full circle because I finally get a chance to do both of the things I love, which are sing and act, and do them at the same time," said Mr. Robinson, who was in Augusta Saturday for his movie release party at D. Timm's. "To say the least, I was extremely excited and eager to show the world what I'm able to do ... and I'm eager for everybody to see it."
Mr. Robinson graduated from Lakeside High School and sang with an R&B group before attending the University of Georgia briefly. He then moved to Los Angeles, where he landed roles on TV shows including Power Rangers, American Dreams, ER and Half & Half and in movies including Fat Albert.
Loosely based on the careers of the Supremes, Dreamgirls is about three black female singers who find success on the pop charts. Mr. Robinson plays the brother of the film's central character, Effie White (played by American Idol alumna Jennifer Hudson). According to Mr. Robinson and various news accounts, the role was originally to have been played by the singer Usher.
Mr. Robinson said it opened a door for him to take a chance at a role he felt at home with.
"It was a long wait, but by the grace of God it all worked out well," he said. "I did two auditions, then I waited four months and I had to come in and do this big dance audition in front of all these studio executives. But I was going to burn a hole in my foot - they weren't going to let me out of there without giving me a gig!"
He rejected reports about feuding between Beyonce and Ms. Hudson but concedes that at first he worried that there might be some. Working with Mr. Murphy and Mr. Foxx was "kind of surreal" at first, then became like a tutorial, he said.
"I remember the first day driving to work I was just wondering what the air would be like with these huge superstars in one room and all of us doing the same project," he said. "But it was a real comfortable working environment and there was really no type of negative energy.
"Everybody was in awe of everybody else's talents, and it was an honor to be considered a peer and put my 10 cents in."
Mr. Robinson is on six songs on the Dreamgirls soundtrack and is working on an CD, Utopia. His first single, The One, can be heard on myspace.com/keithrobinsonofficial.
This year, he also completed shooting Comanche Moon, a six-hour Western miniseries filmed as a prequel to 1989's Lonesome Dove. It's set to air on CBS in February.
He has been promoting Dreamgirls with hopes of becoming a household name. He said he understands studio marketing practices of pushing the stars with well-known names, but he still was not happy when he was left out as the cast was featured on Oprah.
"I got a legend and an Oscar winner that I'm competing with for airtime before this movie comes out, so it makes it a little difficult," he said. "But the good thing about it is I'm the new guy on the screen who is kind of getting introduced to the world, so it's kind of like, I look at it as me being the secret weapon, if you will."
Reach C. Samantha McKevie at (706) 823-3552 or firstname.lastname@example.org.