Cat Ellington (/’kat ‘el’ling’tən/; born Kimberly Monique Hart to parents Linda Marie Hart and Ezell Ellington-Jenkins on November 28, 1970) is an American songwriter, casting director, poet, and author from Chicago, Illinois. She is best known for casting the forthcoming feature film Dual Mania. In addition, Ellington is also notable for authoring the nonfiction book series, Reviews by Cat Ellington: The Complete Anthology, and co-authoring The Making of Dual Mania: Filmmaking Chicago Style.
Early life and education
The youngest of two children, Ellington grew up on Chicago's South Side with her mother and her older brother, RaVan Hart. And over a period of several years the clan, originally from the Hyde Park – Kenwood Historic District, would relocate to other legendary South Side, Chicago neighborhoods, including Jackson Park, Bronzeville, Washington Park (where both Ellington and her brother would attend William W. Carter School on 57th and S. Michigan Ave. and Edmund Burke Elementary School on 53rd and King Drive over the stretch of a few years), and Douglas, where the family would come to reside in the Harold L. Ickes Homes, a Chicago Housing Authority development sprawled along the so-called "low end" of the South State Street corridor, after inflation forced them from their Washington Park habitation in 1979.
Products of the Chicago Public Schools system, both Ellington and her brother attended John C. Haines Elementary School in the South Side Chinatown community from 1979 to 1983 before they were once again uprooted and moved to another location quite foreign to their own: the state of Minnesota. With the acceptance of an out-of-state job offer, Linda, herself an alumna of Dunbar Vocational High School, would pack up her small family and head north to the quiet town of Saint Paul.
Cat completed her 8th grade credits as a student at St. Paul's Ramsey Junior High School before transferring to Highland Park High School to begin her 9th grade year in September of 1984. Majoring in her creative crafts of music and writing, Ellington would remain a student at Highland until her graduation year of 1988.
In the summer of 1991, Ellington, overcome with homesickness, would return her nativity of Chicago to pursue her creative dreams of working in the Arts and Entertainment industry. She had been home, but times were lean due to the economic recession. And to support herself, Ellington had to find work until she broke ground. After working several odd-and-end jobs, she would eventually find stable employment at a popular marketing research firm in the city's Gold Coast Historic District during the winter season of 1991. And it was while there, in the summer of 1992, that she met a fellow artist, an aspiring filmmaker named Joseph Strickland, with whom she formed an immediate friendship.
Over the next year, during the summer of 1993, Ellington (who elected to adopt the surname of her father in both her personal and professional lives) and Strickland (a native of West Side, Chicago), having grown quite close, would take their close-knit friendship to the next level, embarking on both a fun-filled romance and a professional partnership in the creative arts.
It was while the new couple were enjoying a quiet date night at Strickland's North Side apartment in Chicago's Edgewater neighborhood, that Strickland had given Ellington the first draft to a screenplay he had been working on titled Dual Mania, inviting her to read it while he prepared dinner. And Cat, having read through the entire original treatment and now in love with the script and its characters, urged Strickland to get the ball rolling on the film production process. Heeding her advice, Strickland would do just that.
Soon thereafter, Strickland and Ellington put their creative heads together--his as a writer, producer and director; hers as a songwriter (she would contribute original songs to the film soundtrack) and a casting director (hired by Strickland after he discovered her impressive gift for picking the perfect talent to portray fictional characters)--and delve into the creative duties of bringing the magnificent screenplay to life on the silver screen.
Over a course of many years ahead, the road on which they traveled, would prove to be quite the challenge for Strickland and Ellington, especially in the power-hungry Chicago, where many rose in opposition, and where one obstruction after another threatened to halt the couple's efforts. What lied ahead were any number of setbacks, including constant turnovers in both their cast and crew positions and persistent money woes. But by late December of 1994, only days before their wedding date, Strickland and Ellington had begin to makes strides. The casting activity had still not been solidified on the project, but they were making strides. And by late March of 1999, despite the many trials that had presented themselves during the stressful production process, principal photography on Dual Mania would be complete; however, the feature film would stall on its originally planned film release, instead diverting to the proverbial shelf where it would lay "comatose" for the next seventeen years.
Awards and nominations
By September of 2018, the Cat Ellington-cast Dual Mania would finally awaken from its long, sedated coma and recharge itself on the international film festival circuit. And by January of 2019, the film would have already been the winner of sixteen awards, including one 2018 fall nomination for Best Mystery/Suspense/Thriller Feature Film from the Alternative Film Festival in Toronto; one 2018 nomination for Best First Time Director (Joseph Strickland) from the Golden Earth Film Award online film festival; two Best of the Month Silver Awards for September-October from the 2018 Royal Wolf Film Awards in Los Angeles ; three Silver Awards for Best Feature Film, Best Director (Joseph Strickland), and Best Actor (Joseph Plummer) from the 2018 Pinnacle Film Awards in Hollywood; one Gold Award for Best Screenplay from the 2018 Pinnacle Film Awards in Hollywood; and four Bronze Awards for Best Feature Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Actress (Sherrice Eaglin) from the Mindfield Film Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
On February 12, 2019, Dual Mania, still holding down a presence on the international film festival circuit, received an official selection from the Rome Independent Prisma Awards to feature in a live event screening on March 5 2019 in Rome, Italy . The date is set to mark the initial release of the highly anticipated feature film.
- Reviews by Cat Ellington: The Complete Anthology, Vol. 1 (2018)
- Reviews by Cat Ellington: The Complete Anthology, Vol. 2 (2018)
- The Making of Dual Mania: Filmmaking Chicago Style (2018)
- Reviews by Cat Ellington - The Complete Anthology Limited Edition Holiday Gift Set (Books 1 & 2) (2018)
- Dual Mania (2019)
• The first thing I look for, in addition to a performer's range, is a performer's look in comparison to the character. That is very important to me as a casting director.
—Ellington, Cat. The Making of Dual Mania: Filmmaking Chicago Style. Chicago: Vital Vision Publications, 2018
Cat Ellington has been married to Joseph Strickland since 1994. The couple have three children.