Kern County makes its mark in Hollywood throughout 2021

Posted at 10:02 AM, Jan 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-01 13:05:05-05

As the world began reopening and vaccinations rolled out, Hollywood made a huge comeback this year. As far as 23ABC is concerned–Kern County made the highlight reel! Here’s a look back at how Kern County shined on the big screen and television this year.

“The Little Things,” which premiered in January 2021 had thrice the Oscar winners: Denzel Washington, Rami Malek and Jared Leto, but to those in Kern County, Washington’s Joe ‘Deke’ Deacon may have stolen the spotlight. He played a Kern County sheriff, who helped Malek's Jim Baxter, try to solve a serial killer crime in Los Angeles.

“It must have been interesting for John Lee Hancock to deal with, Denzel, then go deal with Jared, then go deal with Rami,” Washington said. “He must have been pulling out his hair at the end of the day.”

Plus for years, Bakersfield-grown Gregory Porter filled many of our homes with his Gammy-winning jazz hits.

In May 2021–the two-time Grammy winner took us inside his kitchen at his Bakersfield home. His six-episode cooking show, “The Porterhouse,” featured family recipes from his upbringing, with locally sourced ingredients.

“It’s fascinating as we grow older, as we go back to our roots and the traditions of who we are,” Porter told 23ABC. “When I make gumbo, the smell reminds me of my mother and grandmother and growing up here in Bakersfield.

For two other Bakersfield residents, James and Rebekah Ganiere–it began to look like Christmas in July! That’s when they found out they received a daytime Emmy nomination for their film, “Rekindling Christmas.” 

“Besides being able to work with James and our son Christian, the best part for me was being able to see my vision, when I wrote the book, come to life on the screen and in the movies,” Rebekah Ganiere said. “I just can’t tell you how that feels.”

Meanwhile Tehachapi teen Saida Wolf told us in November how it felt to have the publishing powers that be take notice of her writing and illustrations. Comic book publisher Scout Comics, which has a distribution deal with Simon and Schuster, brought her comic book, “Soulstream” to the masses.

“The concept of it was just going around in my head for a long time because I really think it’s the story that I’ve always wished existed,” Saida said. “If I had found it when I was 10 or 11, it would have been my absolute favorite thing,” said Woolf.

Another young Bakersfield resident –12-year-old actor Evan Whitten also made his mark as Erik in season one of ABC’s “Big Sky” this year. Evan even was a lead in “Mona Lisa and the Blood Moon, co-stars including Kate Hudson and Ed Skrein.

“I learned a lot from them because they’re really good actors and Ed was really nice,” Evan told 23ABC.

Last but not least Kern County ended the year with an ace. “King Richard,” starring Emmy-nominated Will Smith is based on a true story: Grand-Slam Champions Serena and Venus Williams, and their coach and father Richard Williams. But for Bakersfield resident Sophia Sanders, whose role in the film was a tennis player facing young Veus Williams, life truly imitated art.

“Venus and Serena Williams’ stepsister, Isha Price was actually there, watching our audition, and she said that I reminded her of a girl Venus played in one of her tournaments,” Sophia said.

Sophia actually is a tennis player, and her dad, Brandon is her coach.

“We’ve always loved the Williams sisters, so to be a part of this movie about them, in a sport that we love, with a family we love, has just been such an amazing experience,” Sanders said.