AKEELAH & THE BEE was directed by my friend Doug Atchison, who took the same directing classes at USC that I did. The script won a Nichols award in 2000, more than two years before the documentary SPELLBOUND (directed by fellow USC alumnus Jeff Blitz) was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary and opened audiences' eyes and ears to the excitement of spelling Bees.
AKEELAH is the fantastic and inspirational story of a young black girl from South Central who goes on to the national spelling bee. The film features great performances by Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett, and newcomer Keke Palmer as the title speller. I highly recommend the film, and wonder why it has been overlooked this award season.