*Those fortunate enough to have met publicist turned film director Ava DuVernay are aware of her genuine heart and relentless work ethic. She is responsible for the acclaimed BET documentary “My Mic Sounds Nice” as well as “This Is the Life,” both of which are essentials for those that savor the true flavor of Hip-Hop culture.
She has also crafted a deeply personal real life circumstance into her first feature length film. It’s titled “I Will Follow” and recently debuted at the 14th Annual Urbanworld Film Festival to a standing room only audience.
From its masterfully shot exteriors to the emotionally moving dialogue, Ms. DuVernay appears to have mastered subtle nuances of filmmaking that some more acclaimed directors never learned. She’s able to dictate the mood of the viewer with scenery and is able to sculpt the emotions by handpicking great music from the fringes of the African musical Diaspora.
The film is visually pleasing to the eye. All film rookies should aspire to such beauty. It stars Salli-Richardson-Whitfield, Michole White, Dijon Talton, Blair Underwood and the legendary Beverly Todd.
Not only was EURweb.com fortunate enough to view the film’s opening night, but we were also visited on the red carpet by some of the film’s key players as well.
First we met up with Ms. Salli Richardson-Whitfield. Warm and welcoming, the talented actress gave us the rundown on her role.
“My name is May, and the movie is about transitions in life,” she explained. “My aunt dies and I have these twelve visitors who come by on the day of my move who help me transition into what my life is going to be and help me find my way after losing someone so important. It’s really a very simple piece of life. It’s just a really special, special movie.”
Some of our readership may remember Ms. Richardson-Whitfield from her appearances on “Criminal Minds,” “House,” “CSI: Miami” and her ongoing role in the Sci-Fi channel series “Eureka,” which has been going four years strong. Though she is officially an industry veteran, she couldn’t help but give props to Ms. DuVernay, who the character May is based upon.
“It’s a little bit intimidating but she was wonderful,” said Salli of having to play Ava in the film, and being directed by her as well. “She’s gonna be such a big director. She knew what she wanted; I put myself in her hands. She’s just going to be doing bigger and better things.”
We second that motion Ms. Richardson! As soon as Salli was whisked away by handlers there seemed to be a bit of turmoil down the carpet. Flash bulbs were popping and there were girlish screams from some members of the crowd. We turned and Dijon Talton was making his way toward us. The star of the hit Fox show “Glee” was gracious and willing talk about his role in the film. He plays Raven, the nephew of May.
“I play the nephew of the main character played by Salli Richardson-Whitfield,” he explained. “I kind of help her see who she is, and how she loves, and how she’s affecting her family and who she can really trust. I kind of help her initiate that change.”
Though he’s barely 21 years old, Dijon is a veteran in the game. He explained to us why he felt this experience was unique.
“It was definitely something that I loved; I got to bring my heart and my soul,” Talton told EURweb.com. “I got to bring a character and participate in an arc, a storyline that was something different than what you see in your average black 16 year old man. He is an intellectual, he has dreams and he doesn’t want to be your stereotype and that’s something you don’t see on TV all the time.”
The accolades kept flowing. Here’s what he had to say about being directed by Ms. Duvernay.
“Incredible! It’s actually my best acting experience that I had in film to date and I’ve been acting since I was four years old,” he explained. “She’s such a real person and we had an intimate conversation about the character in each scene. We really developed the character as we went. A beautiful outline, a beautiful script, but she was willing to take suggestions here and there. It was the perfect working environment.”
Next up on the red carpet was Omari Hardwick of the hit TNT series “Dark Blue” as well as the remake of “The A-Team” and the soon to be cult classic “Kick Ass.”
“In ‘I Will Follow’ I play the past love interest of May, the lead character. Working with Salli Richardson was great. We had been friends for a very long time, so May and my character Troy were able to bring something a little more authentic than most actors can bring because we actually know each other really well.”
Finally the lovely Michole Briana White came to speak with us regarding her role. She was full of charm and flashing an incredible smile. We were all ears to say the least.
“When I read it I realized it was a great film,” Ms. White explained. “When I read the script I thought it was a breath of fresh air. I am really proud to be a part of it. I think every role is different but then you still bring a part of yourself to it. This woman is grieving too. I play Salli Richardson’s cousin and we’re kind of like sisters. Her aunt is my biological mom, and she has a closer relationship to her than I do. So, there’s a lot of tension between us. It was really a little painful sometimes to try to step inside the role and deal with the feelings of mourning the loss of my mother in life and in death and how do I move on as well.”
“I Will Follow” was the runner up for the Urbanworld Film Festival’s Audience Choice Award and gave “Mooz Lum” by Qasim Bashir a run for its money for the award.
Recently “I Will Follow” was selected for the prestigious Chicago International Film Festival. The dramatic dialogue is so realistic it seemed unscripted; it was witty and flowing and the comic moments were natural and unforced. Critics are showering the film with love. Whenever you get the opportunity to see this film we would advise you to do so.
Watch the trailer for “I Will Follow”: