Lackawanna Blues
Lackawanna blues movie poster.jpg
Based onLackawanna Blues
by Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Screenplay byRuben Santiago-Hudson
Directed byGeorge C. Wolfe
StarringMarcus Carl Franklin
S. Epatha Merkerson
Hill Harper
Jimmy Smits
Terrence Howard
ComposerMeshell Ndegeocello
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producersHalle Berry
Vincent Cirrincione
Ruben Santiago-Hudson
Shelby Stone
ProducerNellie Nugiel
CinematographyIvan Strasburg
EditorBrian A. Kates
Running time95 minutes
Original networkHBO
Original release
  • February 12, 2005 (2005-02-12)

Lackawanna Blues is a drama television film directed by George C. Wolfe and written by Ruben Santiago-Hudson. It aired on HBO on February 12, 2005. It is based on the play of the same name by Santiago-Hudson. Wolfe had commissioned the stage version.[1]

For her work in the movie, S. Epatha Merkerson won a Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, and Emmy Award in 2006.


Lackawanna Blues is the true story of Ruben Santiago Jr. growing up in Lackawanna, New York. He was raised by his father and mother and the neighborhood boarding house lady known as Rachel "Nanny" Crosby. Ruben was born in 1956 to his Puerto Rican father Ruben Santiago and his African-American mother Alean Hudson. His mother was too mentally unstable to take good care of him; residing in mental hospitals, Alean disappears and reappears throughout Ruben's life. His father stayed at Nanny's boarding house, but he was frequently not around due to working long hours or out looking for work. Nanny more or less took care of Ruben Jr. as a mother figure. The television movie depicts his life growing up there and the diverse characters that he meets during his and their stays at the boarding house.


The blind Detroit street singer Robert Bradley from the band Robert Bradley's Blackwater Surprise appears in the film. He performs on-screen and has three songs featured on the soundtrack (including a duet with Macy Gray).

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2005 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Made for Television Movie Lackawanna Blues Nominated [2]
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie S. Epatha Merkerson Won
Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special George C. Wolfe Nominated
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or Special John Papsidera Won
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or a Movie Charles Gregory Ross, Fay Kelly Nominated
Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries or a Movie (Non-Prosthetic) Edna Sheen, Denise Pugh-Ruiz, Karen Westerfield Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or a Movie Susumu Tokunow, Rick Ash, Adam Jenkins Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Miniseries or Television Film Lackawanna Blues Nominated [3]
Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film S. Epatha Merkerson Won
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Won [4]
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Miniseries or Motion Picture for Non-Commercial Television Brian A. Kates Won
Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television Movies and Mini-Series Susumu Tokunow, Rick Ash, Adam Jenkins Won
Costume Designers Guild Awards Best Costume Design – Made for Television Movie or Miniseries Hope Hanafin Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directing – Miniseries or TV Film George C. Wolfe Won [5]
Writers Guild of America Awards Television: Long Form – Adapted Ruben Santiago-Hudson Nominated
TCA Awards Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials Lackawanna Blues Nominated [6]
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Won [7]
Outstanding Directing in a Motion Picture George C. Wolfe Nominated
Outstanding Actor in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special Terrence Howard Won
Jeffrey Wright Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie, Mini-Series or Dramatic Special S. Epatha Merkerson Won
Carmen Ejogo Nominated
Macy Gray Nominated
Rosie Perez Nominated
Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing in Television: Long Form – Dialogue and Automated Dialogue Replacement Jon Mete, Michael Hertlein, Paul Longstaffe Won [8]
Satellite Awards Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film S. Epatha Merkerson Nominated
Best Television Film Lackawanna Blues Nominated
Producers Guild of America Awards Best Long-Form Television Nominated
2006 Black Reel Awards Outstanding Television Miniseries or Movie Won [9]
Outstanding Director in a Television Miniseries or Movie George C. Wolfe Won
Outstanding Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series S. Epatha Merkerson Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor, TV Movie or Limited Series Jeffrey Wright Won
Terrence Howard Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress, TV Movie or Limited Series Carmen Ejogo Won
Rosie Perez Nominated
Adina Porter Nominated
Outstanding Screenplay, TV Movie or Limited Series Ruben Santiago-Hudson Won
Independent Spirit Awards Best First Feature Lackawanna Blues Nominated [10]
Best Female Lead S. Epatha Merkerson Nominated


  1. ^ Lee, Felicia R. (2005-02-06), "Lost and Found In Lackawanna", New York Times
  2. ^ "Lackawanna Blues". Television Academy. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  3. ^ Vries, Lloyd (13 December 2005). "'Brokeback Mountain' Leads Globes". CBS News. Retrieved 10 January 2018.
  4. ^ "12th Annual Screen Actors Guild Award Recipients". Archived from the original on 2007-08-19. Retrieved 2007-08-28.
  5. ^ McNary, Dave (January 9, 2006). "DGA sets telepic nominees". Variety. Retrieved January 23, 2018.
  6. ^ "2005 TCA Awards nominees". Television Critics Association. June 2, 2005. Archived from the original on November 1, 2013. Retrieved June 17, 2013.
  7. ^ "'Crash,' Foxx, win NAACP Image awards". Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  8. ^ "Sound editors sing praise". Variety. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  9. ^ "Terrence Howard gets three Black Reel nods". USA Today. Associated Press. January 4, 2006. Retrieved August 27, 2012.
  10. ^ ""Brokeback," "Capote," "Crash," "Transamerica" Honored With Spirit Awards". indieWire. 2006-03-05. Retrieved 2012-08-21.