Patrik-Ian Polk

Patrik-Ian Polk
Born (1973-07-29) 29 July 1973
Hattiesburg, Mississippi, USA
Occupation Actor, director, screenwriter

Patrik-Ian Polk (b. July 29, 1973 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi) is an American film director, producer, screenwriter, singer, and actor. Polk, who is openly gay, is noted for his films and theatre work that explore the African-American LGBT experience and relationships.[1]

Polk made his feature film directorial debut with Punks, an independent feature that he also wrote and produced. Often described as a male Waiting to Exhale, Punks had its world premiere in January 2000 at the Sundance Film Festival. The film won several awards at festivals around the world and was released theatrically in November 2001.[2] He also directed the film Blackbird in 2014.

Polk is also the creator of the television series Noah's Arc, which made its debut on the Logo television network in October 2005.


Born in 1973 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, Polk was interested in television and movies as a child.[3] He attended Brandeis University, where he was the arts editor of the college newspaper. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi, then went on to study at the University of Southern California (USC) School of Cinema-Television.

Early career

Polk served briefly as a producer's assistant for Amblin Entertainment's TV series known seaQuest DSV. He was then hired to work for MTV as a development executive in the newly formed, Paramount-based film division known as MTV Films. He helped with development of many productions including Beavis and Butt-head Do America and Election. The latter, a scandalous story about a high school election starring Reese Witherspoon, was nominated for an Oscar in 1999.

Polk then began to work for Edmond's Entertainment, or E2 Filmworks. Under Tracey and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Polk worked as vice president of production and development. While at E2, he worked on films such as Soul Food (1997), Hav Plenty (1998) and Light It Up (1999). Soul Food, told through the eyes of an eleven-year-old boy, is a story about the plights of an African-American family broken by the death of their mother. The film eventually went on to be produced into a Showtime network show that turned into a series that ran for four years, becoming the longest running drama featuring a predominantly black cast.

Light It Up, which starred Usher in his first leading role, grossed $6 million in ticket sales.

TV series, Films

Noah's Arc (2005)

Noah's Arc started as a television series about a group of black gay friends. The show integrates issues like same-sex dating, same-sex marriage, HIV and AIDS awareness, infidelity, sexual curiosity, promiscuity, homophobia, gay bashing, and same-sex parenthood. Often considered "the gay Sex and the City", the show aired for two seasons, making 17 episodes, excluding the pilot. The series aired on the Logo cable network, and became extremely popular after its initial airing in October 2005. For a long time, the show was the network's most popular title. The 23-minute episodes take place in Los Angeles and show four gay black friends  Noah, Alex, Ricky, and Chance  dealing with everyday life through complex romantic and professional relationships.

Starring in the show were Darryl Stephens, Rodney Chester, Christian Vincent, Doug Spearman, and Jensen Atwood.[4] A second season aired eight episodes, ending with a cliffhanger. Logo announced that the show was cancelled but, facing demand for a third season, stated that if the planned feature film was a success, the series might return. Polk said that Noah's Arc was both a "triumph and a let down".[5] To this day, many fans still don't understand what possessed LOGO executives to cancel the show.

Punks (2001)

Polk's first directorial feature was Punks (2001). The movie, starring Rockmond Dunbar, Renoly Santiago, Jazzmun, and Devon Odessa, is about a group of gay African-American friends. Punks was first shown in January 2000 at the Sundance Film Festival.[6] The film won the Black Reel Award (2002) for Best Independent Actor (Rockmond Dunbar) and the Cleveland International Film Festival's Best American Independent Feature Film. It also was chosen to open the Twenty-Fourth San Francisco International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival. It was nominated for the GLAAD Media Award and the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award. In November 2001, Punks was released to theatrical audiences at the Quad in New York City. This film's major themes were incorporated in Polk's later works. It had its TV premiere on Logo on August 7, 2011.

Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom (2008)

Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom was his next film, featuring Polk as director, writer, and producer. It was written in collaboration with fellow writer from the series John R. Gordon, and picks up after the cliffhanger in the second season. It is about the marriage and wedding of the main character, Noah Nicolson, and his boyfriend Wade Robinson at Martha's Vineyard. In the movie, four groups of couples struggle for identities while attending four different bachelor parties where each relationship becomes more complicated. Near the end, Noah and Wade are not helped with their last-minute jitters by the social tension.

The film was released on October 24, 2008, on a limited basis, performing at theaters in Los Angeles, New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, Palm Springs, California, and Washington, D.C. The movie showed in Ocean City, New Jersey, Detroit and San Francisco in early November. The movie then began showing at theaters in Philadelphia and Dallas in at the end of November and performed well on a per-screen basis.[7]

Polk's film received much acclaim throughout the gay community. It received three NAACP Image Award nominations: Outstanding Independent Feature Film, Outstanding Writing in a Feature Film and Outstanding Directing in a Feature Film.[8] It won GLAAD Award's for Best Feature Film (Limited Release),[9] but received poor reviews. Time Out called it a "silly soaper,"[10] and Variety described it as "a lame feature" that was "blandly staged",.[11] It received a 43% rating on the website Rotten Tomatoes.[12]

Despite the criticism, according to IndieWire (October 27, 2008),[13] the movie opened as number 1 on the independent film box office report. Theaters reported around-the-block lines, and even though it only played for 7 weeks in no more than seven theaters at once, taking in over $532,000 despite its low mainstream marketing support. The film cost an estimated $5 million to make and is not expected to recover those costs even with its DVD release.

The Skinny (2012)

In 2012, Patrik Ian Polk released the film The Skinny, in which he wrote, directed and produced. The film tells the story of five friends who are Brown University classmate s- four gay men and one lesbian - as they reunite in New York City for Gay Pride weekend, in which secrets are exposed, lies and lots of drama.[14] Producers include Juan Battle and Michael Bennett.

Personal life

Polk's portrayal of the gay African-American community is considered one of his best achievements. Among other things, Polk notes one experience where he was confronted by one transitioning person that they were experiencing exactly what Noah's Arc characters went through and that they were extremely grateful to him. When asked in an interview with Shei what his inspiration was to the series Noah's Arc, Polk replied, "I wanted to see black gay characters and there were none on TV. So I decided rather than complain about it, I'd do it myself."[3] Polk says he was inspired by Spike Lee on television with the scene She's Gotta Have It, where there was a black face in filmmaking. He believes that people should come out and not have a secret lifestyle as it leads to lies and deception.

Polk's film, "The Skinny", debuted in spring 2012.


  1. Shapiro, Gregg (25 October 2005). "Interview with Noah's Arc Creator Patrik-Ian Polk". Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  2. "Punks - 2001". Variety. Retrieved 2008-11-30.
  3. 1 2 Yusuf, Shei. "SheiFunmi Interviews Patrik-Ian Polk". Archived from the original on 15 May 2012. Retrieved 15 May 2012.
  4. Logo TV official site
  5. Rastegar, Roya. “The De-Fusion of Good Intentions Outfest's Fusion Film Festival”. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, Volume 15, Number 3, 2009, pp. 481-497
  6. Kevin Thomas (2001-11-16). "Witty "Punks" takes romantic comedy into new territory". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  7. Richard Lieby (2008-10-31). "Noah's Arc Fills Theaters Two by Two". Washington Post. Retrieved 2008-01-22.
  8. Archived February 17, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. Archived April 12, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  11. Koehler, Robert (2008-10-23). "Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom". Variety.
  12. Rotten Tomatoes
  14. Patrik Ian Polk's new film, The Skinny.

External links

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