Meet the Bullocks: An Inspiring African-American Family for the Arts and for This Generation

December 9, 2014 6:12 PM

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Throughout my lifetime I've met several especially inspiring African-American families. I grew up on the Huxtables -- and in an unfortunate turn of events, those memories have recently soured (damn, Bill!), but there are so many Huxtable-like families that have not been tainted by scandal. Then again, the Huxtables were fictional, and I recently found one very real, inspiring black family not quite two blocks from my northern New Jersey home. They are the Bullocks. Mom Audrey (who goes by her maiden name Martells) is not the lawyer Clair Huxtable is but a talented actress, singer and songwriter with a quietly commanding presence. She is married to Belden, a talented professional bassist who has played alongside some famous jazz musicians. Their sons are Nile, 14, a dancer with seamless moves reminiscent of Michael Jackson's, as well as an actor, singer and voice actor (he currently voices a recurring character on the animated Disney Jr. series Chuggington), and Cole, 11, who most recently starred as young Simba in Broadway's The Lion King. In a few months the family will appear together in a short film that was written by Audrey and directed by Wendell Thomas. In the spirit of art imitating life, the film, Outside the Box, is about an artistic family that tries to bridge the generational gap inherent in different types of musical tastes. To see this family collaborate, as they have done in the past by acting together in a Saturday Night Live skit, gives a you a warm and fuzzy feeling, so if you are longing for the old feel of the Huxtables (that old feel that I experienced must have bridged quite a gap across the world) at any point in time, it's time to tune in to the Bullocks. You will remain unjaded.

When the boys were very young, they saw their parents perform, and whether nature or nurture took hold, Nile was the first family member to exhibit flawless dance moves and other skills that include acting with a British accent. Cole would go on to be the family's first Broadway star, spending last ...

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