Student Work – Paul William Walker and James Avery

Paul William Walker by Patricia Negron


Image of Paul William Walker from Wikipedia. Click for source.

Patricia Negron

Patricia Negron

Paul William Walker IV (“Walker”) was born on September 12, 1973.  He was a model, actor and a Philanthropist.  Walker began his acting career as a toddler when he starred in a commercial for Pampers.  In 1985, he began working in television shows, such as Highway to Heaven, Who’s the Boss?, The Young and the Restless, and many others.  His big screen career didn’t start until 1986 when he starred in the horror/comedy film Monsters in the Closet.  Walker’s breakthrough role came in 2001 where he starred along Vin Diesel in the action film The Fast and the Furious.  From that moment on, Walker established himself as a notable film star and continued to work as the leading man in other films, such as the sequel 2 Fast 2 Furious and Joy Ride, to mention a few.

Walker was also a humanitarian who wanted to help those in need and founded his own non-for-profit organization called Reach Out WorldWide (“ROWW”) in 2010 after the earthquake in Haiti to help mobilize aid workers when natural disasters strike.  ROWW is a network of professionals with first responder skills who understand that the first response is the difference between life and death situations.  He not only found ROWW but also worked very hard in order to see his dream of helping others in need accomplished.

Walker lived in Santa Barbara, California with his dog and his 15 year old daughter Meadow Walker.  He died at the age of 40 on November 30, 2013 of traumatic and thermal injuries suffered after the car, a Porche, he was a passenger in crashed and burst into flames in Santa Clarita, California.  He was a passionate car enthusiast and made it known to all on and off the screen about his love for speed.  In an interview with Parade he spoke openly about his love for speed and the near death experiences he survived.  When he was asked if he was ever scared, his response was “I’m not afraid of anything. That’s just the way I am. That’s the way my grandfather was. He used to race cars and he had the first 160-mile-per-hour Ford Falcon in the San Fernando Valley. And my dad was a two-time Golden Gloves winner, and now he’s into downhill mountain biking and white water rafting. I guess you could say I come from a family of thrill seekers.”

According to recent reports, he allegedly left his entire estate, which is worth about $25 million to his daughter and appointed his father, Paul Walker III the executor and his mother, Cheryl Walker as Meadow’s guardian of the person and property.  It is speculated that this will create conflict among his parents and Meadow’s mother since after his death Meadow moved back to live with her mother.

Paul Walker was not only a great actor but also an amazing humanitarian that used his fame to help others in dire need.  He was loved by his fans, friends and family and never will be forgotten.


 Paul Walker Was Truly Humble, He Kept Charity a Secret, Huff Post (2014)

 Erin Hill, Paul Walker Opened Up About His Love of Extreme Sports: ‘I’m Not Afraid of Anything’, Parade

Rachel Maresca and Bill Hutchinson, Fast & Furious’ actor Paul Walker leaves $25 million to 15-year-old daughter, New York Daily News (2014)

Paul Walker’s Will, TMZ (2014)

Paul Walker, Reach Out WorldWide (2010)

James Avery by Katrina Newell

Image of James Avery from Wikipedia.  Click for source.

Image of James Avery from Wikipedia. Click for source.

Katrina Newell

Katrina Newell

                Most of us will have a favorite uncle or uncles whom we will always cherish and adore.  My favorite uncle is Uncle Phil.  James Avery though he is not my biological uncle, he will always be known to me as “Uncle Phil,” the character he played in the television sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”         

            In this sitcom, James Avery, also known as attorney Philip Banks was the rich uncle to Will Smith (Will Smith) and the patriarch of his family who I fondly remember as his wife Vivian Banks (Janet Hubert, later replaced by Daphne Maxwell Reid), son Carlton Banks (Alfonso Ribeiro), daughter Ashley Banks (Tatyana Ali), daughter Hillary Violet Banks (Karyn Parsons), Geoffrey the Butler, (Joseph Marcell) and Jazz, (DJ Jazzy Jeff), Will’s best friend.

The series which aired during the early 1990s was both funny and enjoyable and at the same time, delivered valuable moral lessons to its viewers.  It was about a wealthy lawyer from Bel-Air, California who had his nephew come to live with him and his family on his estate, saving his nephew from the ills and slums of his nephew’s West Philadelphia neighborhood.  I had always wished that the cast would have a reunion of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” unfortunately that will never happen due to the passing away of Mr. James Avery.

James Avery, who was born James La Rue Avery on November 27, 1945 in Pughsville (now Suffolk), Virginia, passed away on December 31, 2013 in Glendale Adventist Medical Center in Glendale, California at the age of 68.  Although Mr. Avery was born in Virginia, he was raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  After he graduated from high school, he enlisted in the United States Navy and where he served in the Vietnam War from 1968-1969.  Afterwards, he moved to San Diego, California where he began his life as a poet and a television scriptwriter.

His writings earned him a scholarship to the University of California at San Diego where he obtained a degree in Drama and Literature in 1978.  While working with a writer’s collective, he continued to write while he pursued a career in acting.  He was known for his deep, resonating voice and debuted on stage in the play JB, playing the role of God in a production in 1971. His first screen debut was in 1980 where he played a role in the Blues Brothers.  He appeared in numerous films and movies and was a voice actor for many animated series, the most popular being that of “Shredder,” one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in 1987.   He mostly accepted roles that featured him as a well-educated and established black man (judge, professor or doctor) because he felt it was important for black children to see successful black families on television who weren’t born rich, but worked hard to get there.  He completed his final film in September 2013 ironically entitled “Wish I Was Here,” directed by Zach Braff.

According to his publicist, Cynthia Snyder, his death was a result of complications from open heart surgery.  James Avery is survived by his wife of 26 years, his mother Florence Avery and a stepson, Kevin Waters.  Mr. Avery never had any biological children. His net worth was about $3 million.  I could not locate his Will.

 Works Cited

James Avery – Obituary, ‘James Avery was an actor who played Will Smith’s Uncle Phil in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Telegraph Company, UK News, (January 2, 2014)

James Avery (actor), Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (last visited February 2, 2014)

Associated Press, James Avery of ‘Fresh Prince’ fame dead at 65, The Times Tribune,

(January 1, 2014),


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