Haitian actor, Max Eugene, would like to share the following information with anyone who wishes to help the people of Haiti, during this terrible disaster:
A list of charitable organizations active in Haiti.
SEND ANY KIND OF SUPPORT TO AID THE RELIEF EFFORTS IN HAITI THROUGH REPUTABLE ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS UNICEF AND THE AMERICAN RED CROSS. YOU CAN DONATE TO UNICEFUSA.ORG OR 1-800-4-UNICEF OR TO THE RED CROSS AT 1-800-REDCROSS. ALSO A $10 DONATION GOES TO THE RED CROSS WHEN YOU TEXT “HAITI” TO 90999. THIS DONATION WILL SHOW UP ON YOUR NEXT MONTHLY PHONE BILL.
Bilingual actor Max Eugene was born in Port- Au Prince, Haiti, once hailed as the Pearl of the Caribbean by the Spaniards for her richness in beauty and natural resources.
(Haiti became the first independent Black Republic in the Western Hemisphere, after defeating the French Army, which undoubtedly had fallen too much in lust with the island in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.)
His parents, Max Eugene, Sr., a journalist, an actor and an activist, and Jeanne Montfleury, a nurse, left Max in Haiti at the tender age of one, in the care of his Aunt Nini, to seek a better life for the entire family in America. Aunt Nini treated Max like her own son, leading him to genuinely believe that she was his mother.
As a young boy, Max had aspirations to become a footballer like his Argentine idol, Diego Armando Maradona. Becoming a footballer like Maradona or Pelé was probably the dream of most Haitian boys in the eighties and nineties, as Max recalls. He has fond memories of running barefoot and playing in the streets of Haiti with balls made from water balloons covered in large pair of socks, or lemons, or oranges, or plastic bottles of various shapes. As he puts it: “I’d kick anything back then.” But persuaded by his elementary school teacher to play Jean Jacques Dessalines, a Haitian revolutionary leader, in a school play, Max became infatuated and was later seduced by the adrenaline rush that every actor experiences when they perform before an audience. A series of unforeseen events propelled his passion for acting into a lifelong love affair. It was a love affair that he only kept to himself, because to most Haitian parents, an actor is less than a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer. Nevertheless, Max’s passion grew stronger with his first VHS experience in French of “Le Flic De Beverly Hills”, which translates to Eddie Murphy’s “Beverly Hills Cop.” He started dreaming more and more of tall buildings and snow falling from the sky. America! The land of opportunity. ‘And only in America can pretending that you’re someone else earn you a living as an actor’ he thought. Besides, he had already had enough of Haiti’s political turmoil. He wondered, also, about what it would be like living with his biological parents and a brand new sister, Sabine Eugene.
Finally, Max thought his dreams had come true when he was awarded a green card to come to America in the summer of 1992. But his parents insisted that they did not intend to let him stay and live with them in Brooklyn, NY, simply because in Haiti, Max had a village looking after him, which would be the opposite of life in Brooklyn, for both parents worked night jobs. Therefore, coming to America would only be a visit and not a permanent move. During a brief summer visit in 1993, his parents were faced with a difficult choice on the day of his departure to Haiti. As they were leaving for JFK airport, they heard on the radio that armed gunmen had once again taken over the streets of Haiti, that there were no flights arriving to or departing from Haiti since the gunmen were using the airport as a de facto headquarters. Right then and there, he recalled his mom saying to his dad: “My baby is not going back there.”
The next day Max found himself in a classroom filled with English-speaking students at Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn. Armed only with French and Creole, he found it hard to communicate in the English language at first. But as he kicked into survivor mode, he quickly mastered the language with the help of his teachers; music and reading out loud any newspaper articles that he could get his hands on sealed the deal. Furthermore, Max’s love for the art of acting took on new meaning when he was introduced to William Shakespeare. He became more confident and self-assured when he performed as Duke Orsino in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in his high school play, his first performance in English.
In 1997, Max graduated valedictorian of his high school class. He continued his education in upstate New York at Hobart and William Smith Colleges and graduated Cum Laude with degrees in Philosophy, Theatre and Dance. It was in college that Max informed his parents of his commitment to acting, knowing “that acting would not be an easy girl to bring home to his mama”, to echo his words. Neither parent objected to Max’s choice, although they certainly had their doubts. Aunt Nini, however, was certainly disappointed to learn that Max had now declined to pursue a career in law, after she had just come to terms with the fact that he wouldn’t go to medical school even if it were free. Knowing that acting had already had a strong hold on Max’s heart, Aunt Nini uttered: “ Take it easy and just be careful.” Still, the battle with the parents was not over until they attended one of Max’s performances in Luigi Pirandello’s play, “To Clothe The Naked”.
After completing college, Max sought to make his dream a reality. He spent a year working at Children’s Aid Society in New York City as a drama specialist, before embarking on his graduate studies in acting at California Institute of the Arts (also known as CalArts) in California. In 2002, He landed in California with two bags, little money and no place to live. With the help of his peers during orientation at CalArts he finally found a room to rent and was able to purchase a car, which he paid for with a student loan.
At CalArts, he deepened his love of acting by following a rigid regimen of acting, voice, speech, and movement classes on a weekly basis for three years. Following his graduation from CalArts, he was fortunate to acquire an agent in Los Angeles through diligence, hard work, and persistence. Since then Max has toured with a play in France; worked at Sundance Theater Lab; performed at the Roy and Edna Disney Theater (also known as THE REDCAT) in downtown Los Angeles; performed at the Ford Theatre in Hollywood; and starred and co-starred in a few independent film projects, including an experimental film with Hollywood movie director, Elias E. Meridge (Shadow of The Vampire and Suspect Zero). Max currently works at Oakwood School and as an administrative assistant to a Family Therapist. And, of course, he continues to attend acting classes and casting workshops in the Los Angeles area, while he researches the Haitian Revolution, the subject of his own ambitious film project, and adds to his tan under the SoCal (a.ka. Southern California) sun.