Louisiana is known for a lot of things food, festivals, Zydeco, and Cajun music. However, this state introduced the world to fabulous actors, actresses, and theater, and film directors as well. For that matter hundreds of films have been shot in the great state of Louisiana as well.

To take it a step further, New Orleans isn't the only city in Louisana with famous residents. Believe it or not, SWLA is the birthplace of some pretty big names in Hollywood as well! Below, see what famous people you probably didn't know were from Lake Charles.


1.) Zachary Levi

Shazam! Zachary Levi is from Lake Charles, LA. Yup! He was born Zachary Levi Pugh on September 29, 1980, and uses his middle name as his stage surname because his birth name, "Pugh." (pronounced, "Pew.")  At six, Zachary began acting, singing, and dancing in school and at local theater productions.

After graduating from Buena High School, he pursued acting. Zachary began performing roles in regional theater productions like Grease, The Wizard of Oz, The Outsiders, Oliver, and Big River. Ironically he got the attention of Hollywood after he portrayed Jesus in Ojai's Godspell. The rest as they say is history!

The Shazam starred in TV various movies and series like Big Shot: Confessions of a Campus Bookie (2002)Less Than Perfect (2002),

He was seen in the television movie See Jane Date (2003) on the WB with Charisma CarpenterHolly Marie CombsLinda Dano, and Rachelle Lefevre. In his spare time, Zachary enjoys skateboarding, snowboarding, skydiving, and participating in various other sports. After living in Los Angeles for the better part of a decade, he recently moved to Austin, Texas.

In 2019 he starred in the action-comedy film Shazam! (2019), playing the title superhero; a magic-created older version of teenager Billy Batson played by Asher Angel. The film and his comic-heroic performance received positive notices.


A graduate of Tulane University, he went on to spend ten seasons in the NFL. Forte was drafted in the 2nd round by the Chicago Bears in 2008. The former baller from Lake Charles is one of only three players on the "1,000-yard rushing, 100-catch season" club. After eight seasons with the Bears, he would play two seasons for the New York Jets before retiring.

Forte went on to flex his acting skills and is known for his acting role in the hit TV series Chicago Fire (2012)The League (2009), and My Time (2020).



A music major, Travis is a McNeese State University grad and continued his formal music training at Berklee College before hitting the big time in Hollywood. His career took off when he was cast in The Replacement Child (2007).

Travis is a significant talent. The singer/songwriter/musician/actor has been in several films and TV series, including ABC Family's Teen Spirit (2011), Devious Maids (2013) on Lifetime, The Automatic Hate (2015), and HBO's Vinyl (2016). He's also done voice acting work in movies such as Happy Feet (2006), There Will Be Blood (2007), and No Country for Old Men (2007).

Travis Young has been awarded Outstanding Performance by an Actor at the Winnipeg International Film Festival and Best Actor at the Barbados International Film Festival. By the way, in his downtime, my man likes to get down with the blues. Travis plays a mean guitar!



Lucinda Williams is a singer/songwriter/guitarist/actress from Lake Charles. With a discography of 16 albums under her belt. Lucinda released her first album in 1979, 'Ramblin' on My Mind,' and has enjoyed a successful music career ever since then.

She's a 3-time Grammy Award-winning artist and after more than 4 decades continues to dominate her craft. This year she released a new LP, 'Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart' and is currently traveling the world on tour in support of the new project.


This Lake City diva is a bonified music superstar! However, just like the men, she's a jack of all trades and one hell of an actress too. Lucinda has also starred in a number of blockbuster movies like X-Men (2000), Wild (2014), and Transamerica (2005).


Jared Bankens was born in Westlake, LA, and is an actor/producer who took his love of theater and film straight to the top. From an early age, Bankens showed an interest in the arts and acting. He also starred in theater productions in high school. Born in 1987, Bankens is only 35 but he has made his mark in Hollywood and has an extensive list of movie creds.

His acting career has been incredibly successful with him starring in blockbuster films such as Venom, The Purge, Roots, A Dark Place, The Haunted, Mississippi Grind and Brother’s Keeper in 2015, The Perfect Date, Inherit the Viper, Looking for Alaska, and The Peripheral just to name a few!

His latest project is a highly anticipated TV series that will premiere on Peacock on July 27 starring another Louisiana man Mr. Anthony Mackie. Bankens is set to appear in the highly-anticipated American post-apocalyptic action-comedy TV series based on the iconic video game, Twisted Metal.



Amy is an actress/TV Host/Voice Over Artist/comedian. She does it all! Brassette has major clout in the world of comedy with an amazing character range that landed her a gig the iconic King of Comedy, Cedric The Entertainer. Amy was a Series Regular in the FOX sketch-comedy series Cedric the Entertainer Presents!

An accomplished actor as well starring in the HBO drama series True Detective, with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. With her gift of gab, Amy served as the host of the dating TV show, My Amazing Cheap Date (12 episodes, 2021-2022) in New Orleans. Which by the way, is now on the streaming platforms Apple TV, ROKU, Google Play, and Amazon Fire TV.

This SWLA diva began her career as a teenage sketch comic and improv performer. At 19 she moved to L.A. and auditioned with a self-produced VHS of 24 original characters! Today with more than 50 characters and impressions she's voiced characters in the Warner Brothers cartoon Duck Dodgers and Sony's video game Everquest 2!

With an uncanny ability to transform Amy was unrecognizable in the horror comedy 'Smothered' (2016), as a gray-haired, rotten-toothed, cigar-smoking, backwoods psychopath.

7.) Lodric D. Collins

Los Angeles Premiere Of MGM's "Respect" - Arrivals
Getty Images

A country boy from Lake Charles, Lodric is making his mark in Hollywood and the big screen. He discovered his love for acting in elementary school auditioning and performing in various theater productions.  After serving his country in the Marines, he followed his dream of acting and moved to New York to study.

The "2022 Soul Train Awards" Presented By BET - Arrivals
Getty Images for BET

Worked on and off stage in Broadway productions, honing his craft, and appearing in notably known roles such as 'General Hannibal Barca' (Massanissa) and 'Berowne' (Loves Labors Lost) where he received rave reviews. Lodric starred in the blockbuster film 'Respect' as Smokey Robinson alongside Jennifer Hudson, Forrest Whitaker, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, and Marlon Wayans.

In addition to portraying Donald Winthrop in the Tyler Perry Soap Opera, 'The Oval'. This film is streaming on BET, FuboTV, and Philo. The sky is the limit and we are watching Lodric!


Dempsey Pappion was born in Lake Charles in 1979 and graduated from St. Louis Catholic High School. He is a world-renowned movie casting director and an accomplished actor. He started his acting career in 1999 with an acting role in the TV series 'Undressed.' His first leading role was in the film 'The Red Sneakers.' Since then this SWLA Hollywood star has been shining really bright.

His recent work was portraying Rain in Mortal Kombat! He is noted for his acting and casting director skills in countless TV shows, series, and movie blockbusters such as War of the Worlds (2005), La La Land (2016) and The Lorax (2012) Cold Case, NCIS, That's So Raven (2003). Dempsey has also been in a ton of commercial ads for Papa John's Pizza, Taco Bell, McDonald's, Coca-Cola, Honda Civic, and T-Mobile just to name a few!


This Lake Charles native earned his BA at McNeese State University and studied Biology, Marketing, and Theatre. Choppy is a celebrated actor with theater and an assortment of movies, and TV films or series on his resume. There is no doubt that this MSU Cowboy has made his mark in Hollywood.

If you are a movie buff you have seen him in starring roles like Antebellum, Left Behind, Strange Weather, Doom Patro, Leverage: Redemption (2011), and First Man (2018) admits his most recent film, Mayfair Witches (2023) and so many others.


Taja V. Simpson
Getty Images for BET

Taja V. Simpson fell in love with acting when she was seven years old. She and her cousins would watch their favorite shows and then act out their favorite characters. She is a graduate of McNeese State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mass Communication and Broadcast Journalism. After college, she moved to Houston, TX to pursue her acting career and enrolled in various acting workshops.

Taja's breakout role was in the Soap, The Bold & The Beautiful as Adele. Since then she hasn't looked back appearing in everything from TV films Grey's Anatomy, NCIA, The Thundermans, KC Undercover, NCIS: LA, to blockbuster films like The Soul Man, and Lethal Weapon.

The talented Lake Charles actress is widely known, however, for her role in Tyler Perry's Boo2! A Madea Halloween," and can be seen as Priscilla Owen in BET's newest drama, Tyler Perry's "The Oval."

Taja V Simpson
Taja V Simpson

Taja is also a film director with over 40 plus productions under her belt from stage plays to music videos and short films. Next up is directing television. She can be seen in Christopher Nolan's "My Online Valentine" on Amazon, the Christmas film, and "London Mitchell's Christmas." Look for 3 additional films starring Taja soon streaming on Netflix, Amazon & iTunes.


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Gallery Credit: Aine Givens

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