Actress | Funkacize | Kink Phobia | Current Appearances | A Rose Among Thorns | Videos | Voiceover | Store
See More

Nominated for OVATION Award 

“King Hedley II” Reviewed by Dan Berkowitz

In these days of short attention spans, when the “ideal play” is described as being 70 minutes with no intermission, the very idea of a three-hour evening in the theatre is enough to make some audiences cringe. “How will I stay awake that long? How can anything be interesting for three hours?!?”

Well, if the play is by the great August Wilson, and is in the hands of a group of superlative actors working under an assured director, it can be interesting and then some. In Michele Shay’s production of King Hedley II at the Matrix Theatre, the three hours fly by.

Mr. Wilson, who died in 2005, was best known for “The Pittsburgh Cycle” – 10 plays about the African-American experience throughout the twentieth century, of which King Hedley II is one. He wrote with specificity, not only of place (with the exception of one of the plays, the Hill District of Pittsburgh) and time (each play takes place in a different decade), but also of language. Characters erupt in geysers of words: they use language to caress, to cajole, to threaten, and to punish. While there are cascades of words in each of Mr. Wilson’s plays, none are extraneous, and every one of them takes aim straight at the minds and hearts of the audience.

In 1985 Pittsburgh, King Hedley II (Esau Pritchett) is a 30-something petty thief, back home living with his mother Ruth (Ella Joyce) after seven years in prison for killing the man who cut him with a razor – the vivid scar still bisects his face. King and his pal Mister (Jon Chaffin) dream of opening a video store, and are selling probably-stolen refrigerators to get together the necessary cash, and when that doesn’t seem to be producing enough, they rob a local business to hurry things along.

On the domestic side, 35-year-old Tonya (Ciera Payton) is pregnant with King’s child, which produces tension between the couple: King wants the baby, but Tonya – having already had a child at 17 who had to be brought up without a father, is determined to have an abortion. And Elmore (Montae Russell), an old flame of Ruby’s who has a tendency to disappear from her life at odd moments, shows up again, this time asking her to marry him.

Montae Russell and Ella Joyce. Photo by Oliver Brokelberg

Looking on, and often commenting, is Ruby’s next-door neighbor, Stool Pigeon (Adolphus Ward), an ancient eccentric whose house – and front porch – are piled high with old newspapers, and who seems at times to have a direct line to the Almighty.

Described as one of Mr. Wilson’s darkest plays, King Hedley II indeed ends tragically – in a manner echoing the ancient Greeks in its irony – but there are plenty of laughs along the way, and the cast takes full advantage of both the laughter and the tears.


All the actors are splendid. Mr. Pritchett is a striking figure, tall, with a shaved head and burning eyes, looking as if he could break in half anyone who angered him. And yet there’s a vulnerability to King, almost an innocence, and Mr. Pritchett’s ability to convey this makes us – perversely yet inevitably – root for him even at his most despicable.

L-R: Ella Joyce, Jon Chaffin, Ciera Payton, Esau Pritchett, and Adolphus Ward. Photo by Oliver Brokelberg

He’s matched step-for-step by Mr. Russell, whose character is the ultimate sleazy con man, but whose bonhomie and wide smile keep you laughing as he empties your pockets. Mr. Russell’s winning manner makes Elmore’s final chilling revelation even more devastating and unexpected.


Mr. Chaffin quietly plays second-fiddle to King, going along even when he knows what’s about to happen could be a disaster; Mister’s wife has left and taken the furniture, and Mr. Chaffin deftly conveys the desperation of a grown man reduced to sleeping on the floor.

Jon Chaffin and Ella Joyce. Photo by Oliver Brokelberg

As a woman torn between her love for her man, and her refusal to be beholden to him, Ms Payton shows us someone determined not to fall into the same trap she succumbed to years ago – but lets us see at the same time how difficult the decision is.

As a sometime-doddering, sometimes-forceful presence which suggests a Greek chorus, Mr. Ward is by turns chilling and hilarious. His repeated description of God – “a bad motherf**ker” – brings laughs throughout the evening.

But perhaps the biggest laugh of the night is earned by Ms Joyce, as she nonchalantly tosses off a line late in the play about performing a sex act and the “need to do it again.” The actress, who originated the role of Tonya in the world premiere of the play some years ago, moves into the role of Ruby with grace and a fierce dignity: whether going for laughs, or living through the worst nightmare a mother can face, there isn’t a false note in Ms Joyce’s performance – she’s simply magnificent.

Ella Joyce. Photo by Oliver Brokelberg

Ms Shay – who was nominated for a Tony for her performance in Mr. Wilson’s Seven Guitars – directs with a firm but nuanced hand. She keeps the pace crackling, and draws expertly layered performances from the cast.


John Iacovelli’s detailed set puts us – literally – in the hardscrabble dirt the characters must surmount, while Derek Jones’s lighting, Mylette Nora’s costumes, and Kevin Novinsky’s sound make valuable contributions.

My only quibble is the way the evening begins: as the audience sits facing a fully-lit set, a piece of music plays, loudly. Presumably it’s meant to set the scene, but (to me anyway) the lyrics were incomprehensible, and the piece lasts a full five minutes. It was an inauspicious way to start.

Thankfully, once the actors entered, all was well. King Hedley II is a powerful play, stunningly acted and well-directed. Go ahead and spend three hours with these characters – you won’t regret it.

Rest In Peace DAN BERKOWITZ, who wrote this review, which culminated in a Los Angeles Ovation Award for Ella Joyce, and several other cast members. You will forever be missed Dan Berkowitz (RIP).

King Hedley II
Written by August Wilson
Directed by Michele Shay

Matrix Theatre
7657 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90046

ELLA JOYCE WINS Ovation Award.





OMG! U Gotta See What This “Roc” Actress Does For A Living Now!

Posted On : March 11, 2016

ella joyce now10
Remember actress, Ella Joyce, from the 90’s TV show, Roc? You might also remember her as the police officer in the film Set It Off; for her recurring role on the sitcom, My Wife & Kids; Tyler Perry’s movie, Temptations, and many other roles, but it was her role as “Eleanor,” the strong wife of “Roc” (Charles S. Dutton), that really set her career on fire in 1991.

ella joyce200

The cast of Roc” sitcom…

Roc cast

Well that was then and this is now, and Ella has taken on several other roles in her real life. She’s still an actress, but her most recent career is as a fitness instructor, but not just any ol’ fitness instructor, she teaches a soul-fitness class called Funkacize, where they only exercise to soul music as she blends fun dance steps with effective exercise routines for a soulful workout that her clients have been raving about. So if you’re ever in North Hollywood, Cali., stop by and let Ella get your body right.

ella joyce exercise flyer

Ella Joyce leading her funkacize fitness class…

ella funkacize3One thing is for sure, Ella Joyce is 61 years young and she’s workin’ it like she’s 31! There’s nothing better than seeing our old schoolers stay fit, stay on point with their health, and keep that engine running in tip top shape and we thank Ella for spreading that message through her Funkacize classes.

ella joyce funkacize

Mrs. Joyce isn’t sleeping on her acting career though, she’s still doing her thing in the acting world and she recently had a guest role on Being Mary Jane alongside actor (and Beyonce’s new step-dad), Richard Lawson. Ella played the role of the character, “Lisa’s” mother.Ella Joyce and actor, Richard Lawson, in

Ella Joyce and actor, Richard Lawson, in “Being Mary Jane”

Ella’s also added the title of author to her name. She released a book titled, “Kinky Phobia: Journey Through A Black Woman’s Hair,” which according to her website was created ‘after what seemed a lifetime of her hair concerns, she decided to live relaxer chemical-free. After many distressing hair adventures and “emergencies”, and successfully allowing her natural hair to grow longer than she ever imagined, and receiving many compliments and inquiries about her hair maintenance, she decided to share her thoughts, memoirs and kinky hair secrets, with other frustrated Black women everywhere.’

So as you can see, Ella Joyce has her plate pretty full and we’re very happy to hear that. She lives in California with her husband, who is also an actor and director, Dan Martin. Dan has had many roles throughout the years on shows such as The Bold and the BeautifulBoston LegalNumb3rsMalcolm in he Middle and more. They’ve been married since 1992 and are still going strong. In Hollywood, that’s like being married for 70+ years, so we give Ella and Dan a big hand clap for their marriage success.

Ella Joyce and her husband
Ella Joyce and her husband/actor Dan Martin

Keep doing your thing Mrs. Joyce, we see you!

 See more at:



Detroit article:






Interview on LATALKLIVE U Stream link:


FRI, JUL 31, 2015 AT 8:00 PM



Logo for BAM - Best Artist Management 

Dr. Khephera, Healthy Live-Style Coach of 
is proud to present a special event for 2 special nights!

Friday Night - July 31st 8pm-10pm and the 2nd class is 
Saturday Night - August 1st 8pm-10pm

Specialized for active older adults but... young folks invited too

Detroit's Own, Actress & Soul Sister, ELLA JOYCE will bring us her fun workout class FUNKACIZE! She teaches fun, classic dances from a great, beloved era. Do the Boogaloo, the Mash Potato, The Monkey, the Camel Walk & more.

It's a 1 hour, soul-funk, aerobic dance-exercise class. Be prepared to sweat! Class dances strictly Sock-Hop Style.

Friday & Saturday 
(workout from 8-9pm - mix, mingle & network 9-10pm)

BAM STUDIO 19954 LIVERNOIS, Detroit, MI 48221

$20 at the door
Space is limited so come early (first come first served)

See more info at:

check out:

BAM Studios - Best Artist Management - 19954 Livernois Ave Detroit, MI 48221

« Return to Funkacize


© 2021 Ms. Thing Productions. All Rights Reserved.

Web by The Web Corner | Links to Friends