20 years ago, the film Drumline hit theaters to extremely positive reviews. It followed the journey of Devon Miles as he transitioned from high school in New York City to the fictional HBCU named Atlanta A&T. What made this movie special is that it showcased Southern culture, along with the importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities to not only African American communities, but to the infrastructure of America itself. The exciting storyline and phenomenal list of actors made this film a staple in Black cinema.
Featuring Nick Cannon in the main role, the cast included Zoë Saldaña, Orlando Jones, Leonard Roberts, Jason Weaver, J. Anthony Brown, and more. Its themes of growth, compromise, love, and integrity gave Drumline a powerful and lasting legacy. The film’s portrayal of young people of color in an institution of higher learning was praised by fans and critics alike, and it also launched the careers of Cannon and Saldaña.
Since its release in 2002, this film can be seen in syndication, as well as on several digital streaming platforms. Similar to other modern-day classics, this coming-of-age tale never gets old, no matter how long it’s been since you’ve seen it.
In celebration of its 20th anniversary, let’s take a look at the cast of Drumline – then and now.
Drumline’s main character, who is a cocky freshman drummer for the marching band at the fictional college Atlanta A&T.
Cannon began his career in 1998 as a member of All That’s cast, but after the release of Drumline in 2002, his career reached new heights. In the past two decades, he has appeared in several films and television shows, released two albums, and become a true mogul in the entertainment space. He has gone on to host The Nick Cannon Show, America’s Got Talent, Lip Sync Battle Shorties, and The Masked Singer, along with creating the wildly popular MTV show Wild N’ Out.
The head dancer at Atlanta A&T University, and the love interest of Devon Miles.
Saldaña has become one of the highest grossing actresses of all-time in recent years. After roles in films like Star Trek, Avatar, Takers, Columbiana, and The Avengers, she has become well-respected in the movie industry. She can be seen in the upcoming film Avatar: Way of the Water.
Morris Brown’s bandleader and primary antagonist of the film.
J. Anthony Brown
This longtime comedian was a staple on The Tom Joyner Morning Show for 20 years, and is currently a co-host on The Steve Harvey Morning Show.
The upperclassman section major for Atlanta A&T’s drumline, and Devon’s at-first adversary.
Roberts was first seen on film in 1997 as Eddie Coles in Love Jones – and he hasn’t looked back since. After appearances in Hoodlum and He Got Game the following year, Roberts focused more on television, and crafted a respectable career as an actor. He is now part of the recurring cast of All-American: Homecoming on The CW.
Photo by JB Lacroix/Getty Images
Devon’s friend and fellow drumline member.
Weaver was a child star in the early 90s, with roles in The Lion King (as the voice of Simba), and he also starred as a young Michael Jackson in 1992’s The Jacksons: An American Dream. As the decade winded down, he was cast in the cult hit Smart Guy, on the WB. In the years following Drumline, Weaver starred in ATL, and Showtime’s The Chi.
Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images
The head of the band at Atlanta A&T.
This seasoned actor rose to fame in the 90s as a member of MADTV’s cast, and had roles in popular shows like Girlfriends, The Bernie Mac Show, Everybody Hates Chris, and most recently, Abbott Elementary. In the early 2000s, Jones also did voice over work for the video games Halo 2 and L.A. Rush.