*Taimak became a star overnight when he played opposite Vanity in the 1985 film, “The Last Dragon.” With no acting experience, he was cast by the film’s producer, Motown mogul Berry Gordy, to play the shy but martial arts rocking Leroy Green, looking for “the glow.”
In addition to smooth karate moves, the production played like a 2-hour music video packed with suspense, action, romance, and the message of being true to one’s self. With the cult-success of the film, many fans were hoping Taimak would soon rule the movie screens.
However, we only saw the kickboxing champion in unforgettable films and small television roles such as a “A Different World” and “Malcolm and Eddie.” So, what happened to his acting career? Taimak explains it all in his just released autobiography, “Taimak: The Last Dragon.”
“I think Berry Gordy was very talented but he was a shark and I learned that there are sharks in Hollywood that will say one thing and do another,” Taimak told EURweb.com. “At the end of it, we never talked again because I didn’t sign a contract. At the point of shooting ‘The Last Dragon,’ he was like a father image. I stayed at his house and we hung out because he really wanted me to get an understanding of the role.”
Taimak added, “There are a lot of details about this in my book. He wasn’t in the room one day when there was a contract for me to sign to do additional films and something went down in that room and I felt betrayed. He didn’t care to find out why I didn’t sign the contract so he just never talked to me again after that.”
The Los Angeles born, New York-raised Taimak’s experience with Gordy has not tainted his overall feelings about “The Last Dragon” and the positive message the film continues to convey for today’s generation.
“I’m always pleasantly surprised when people who’ve seen the movie respond the same way that people did when the movie came out (in 1985). They really love it,” said Taimak. “The message is that you can create anything you want if you look within yourself. People look out of themselves and think they’re victims. I take on my life 100 percent. I’m responsible for everything in my life and there’s a level of ownership that is profound. The glow is anything is possible even the things you think are impossible. It doesn’t mean it’s easy. It’s a way of going about life. There is no victimhood in my world.”
He also remembers the fun times he had with co-star Vanity, the Prince Protégé who headed the group Vanity 6.
“I had a great time with her. She was not only beautiful she was but charismatic and fun,” said Taimak. “But we argued a lot during those shootings. She was like an alpha-male. She would tell me where to sit and everything. It was very funny. I was younger than she was but I was also an alpha-male and we were butting heads. I write a lot about that too. And looking back at it now I would have liked to see her do more but unfortunately she’s gone.”
Vanity struggled with drugs throughout her career and eventually broke-away from Prince and entertainment altogether. She dropped the Vanity moniker in favor of her real name, Denise Matthews, became a Born-Again Christian, and an ordained minister. Unfortunately, her past drug use took its toll on her body causing her to need constant care and dialysis. Just a few short months before Prince died, Vanity, passed away at the age of 57 last February.
“She was trying to convert me but I am a person who likes to be treated a certain way and I like to treat people that way,” Taimak said. “I don’t go by how religious someone is. I go by how someone behaves toward me. There are very religious people who do bad things and I’ve seen atheists do bad things but I don’t measure them by what they say but by what they do. She had a journey that she had to go on.”
With Taimak’s outlook on life, it is not hard to believe that he harnesses his energy and talent to help others. Over the years, he has worked as a choreographer with Debbie Allen and Jamie King and as a martial arts trainer to the stars including Madonna. He now tours around the world giving seminars to kids and young adults about making their dreams come true sooner than later through his organization Unfolding Dream.
“I play a trick on them, where I ask them where is tomorrow located? They get the profound sense of the now, “said Taimak. “And make the connection between the now and their dreams as not something far away in the future but that’s closer. It’s something they can take on. Principals and teachers see a difference in the way young people act after the seminar about their dreams, career, and schoolwork.”
To find out more about Unfolding Dream, go here: http://unfoldingdream.org. Meanwhile, to get Taimak’s book, you can order it directly from the publisher at http://www.incorgnitobooks.com/taimakbook or through Amazon. Also, look for the audio book, voiced by Taimak and the short film he stars in and directs called “I’ve Seen Things.” Reach him directly on Twitter @iamtaimak.