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Mos Def Gets ‘Enlightened’ on HBO

Rapper/actor Mos Def has lit up the silver screen and starred on Broadway, but he’s ready to make the jump to the small screen as a series regular. The emcee, whose real name is Dante Terrell Smith-Bey, has joined the cast of HBO’s single-camera comedy ‘Enlightened,’ marking for the first time that he’s played a full-time role on any TV show.

‘Enlightened’, which was given the green light by the cable network back in September 2009, stars Laura Dern, Diane Ladd and Luke Wilson. The show focuses on Amy (Dern), a volatile woman who, after a meltdown, attempts to lead an enlightened life. Mos Def is slated to play her new boss when she comes back to work post-breakdown, while Wilson will play Amy’s drug-addicted ex-husband and Ladd will play Amy’s mother.

The rapper has played TV roles as far back as 1988, when he made his debut on the made-for-TV movie ‘God Bless the Child.’ Since then, Mos has appeared on series such as ‘Spin City,’ ‘Brooklyn South,’ ‘NYPD Blue,’ ‘Chappelle’s Show’ and, most recently, ‘House M.D.,’ where he played a bike accident victim who suffers from locked-in syndrome.

On the big screen, Mos Def started out small, appearing in Spike Lee’s 2000 film ‘Bamboozled’ and in ‘Monster’s Ball.’ He was nominated for an Emmy in 2004 for his portrayal of Vivien Thomas in the TV movie ‘Something the Lord Made,’ going on to star in Michel Gondry’s ‘Be Kind Rewind,’ ‘Cadillac Records’ and ‘Next Day Air.’

Musically, Mos Def released his first recording as part of Urban Thermo Dynamics. His collaboration album ‘Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star’ followed in 1998, and his seminal solo debut ‘Black on Both Sides’ was released the following year. His most recent effort, ‘The Ecstastic,’ was greeted with critical praise upon its release last year, earning him a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album.

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