Twenty-seven years after the release of the 1992 film “Boomerang,” which starred Eddie Murphy, Halle Berry, Robin Givens, Eartha Kitt, and Grace Jones, BET is helping to pick up the story from the film decades later, with their new series aptly titled “Boomerang.”
However the new series doesn’t follow the lives of the characters from the film, instead focusing on the lives and careers of the adult children of the film’s leading characters: Simone Graham (daughter of Eddie and Halle Berry’s characters Marcus and Angela) who is played by Tetona Jackson and Bryson Broyer (son of Robin Given’s character Jacqueline Broyer) who is portrayed by Tequan Richmond who gained recognition for his role on the hit tv series Everybody Hates Chris.
The series explores what it means to navigate through corporate America as young black professionals as well as balancing career with romance and friendships in which Richmond and Jackson are joined by promising newcomers notable comedian/actress LaLa Milan, Leland B. Martin, RJ Walker, and Brittany Inge. The ten-episode series was written and executive produced by Lena Waithe with Halle Bery also serving as an executive producer and will premiere on BET on February 12th. The young leading actors sat down with The Knockturnal for an in-depth discussion touching on what it was like taking on this new adaptation of the beloved film.
The Knockturnal: What was it like working with Lena Waithe, and what advice did she give that was beneficial in portraying your characters?
Lala Milan: Working with Lena Waithe was amazing, literally, the energy that she exudes in her interviews is the same energy she gives off when working with people which is positive and always encouraging. She honestly wants to see everybody win. So a piece of advice that she gave to me is, and I mean I say this line all the time ‘Do that shit’! That’s exactly what she said and it’s funny because that put the fire up under me to go hard. It’s like I got Lena Waithe watching me, I ain’t got no choice but to go in and give it everything that I’ve got. So it was an awesome experience to work with her.
Brittany Inge: Lena was very hands-on during the experience. I do want to clarify that she didn’t direct us per se, but she was there to like give us guidance, she was also a writer on the show and co-creator. She would sometimes be there to help shift the story and keep it pushing forward. Like we would have lines memorized and sometimes they would change, just things like that. She was really hands-on and made the experience really enjoyable, very positive. She just encouraged us to know that this show, this opportunity was bigger than us and to stay focused on telling the story, reaching people and being role models.
Leland B. Martin: Yea I concur.
Leland B. Martin: One of the things that she told me repeatedly was that ‘this is bigger than us’. The fact that these line of characters representing so many facets of the culture. From the woke rebel to the young corporate exec we literally represent all facets of the culture from gay to bisexual to straight everything. There are gonna be people all over the country, all over the world that watch this that are gonna see themselves and find identity through our characters.
The Knockturnal: How did you identify with your characters in particular?
Leland B. Martin: Ari is unapologetic and I’m kind of the same. He’s free. He’s free as far as like his sexuality is concerned, free as far as not worrying about other people’s opinions, he cares about his friends and I see myself in a lot of ways similar to my particular character for sure.
LaLa Milan: My character is Tia, and I feel like I definitely have some similarities between the two. She has a personality on her, she is never gonna have a dull moment and she’s talented and she’s multi-faceted she’s not afraid to do anything, she’s fearless, and she’ll try anything once.
RJ Walker: David he’s a leader of sorts. He’s always there for his friends regardless of what he’s going through. One things I can relate to is when he gives advice he’s also speaking to himself. So it’s like he could be helping someone out but he’s probably going through the same thing so it’s not like it’s above him or he’s above it. Also, he’s dedicated, I’m dedicated, I’m here. He’s just a cool dude. And I have the religious/spiritual background just like him.
Brittany Inge: The way I relate to my character Crystal is that she’s really smart, super witty and very like protective and motherly towards her friends and that is me all day.
Tetona Jackson: I feel like the way I connect with Simone she’s very determined and I feel like I’m the same way. If there’s something she wants to do she will go for it and she will make it happen. So I definitely connect with her on that level.
The Knockturnal: So when you saw the original Boomerang film with Eddie Murphy, Halle Berry and Robin Givens and other great black actors, what stood out to you about it?
Lala Milan: A lot of things stood out about the original one to me. For me specifically the different characters that there was. Of course my favorite was Strangé, but I also liked Tisha Campbell’s character the loud neighbor, different people who could relate to people in the audience as well. But I liked the comedic spin to the story. It was super relatable especially at that time but it’s timeless because even watching it today there was a lot of things in there that could relate to me personally and anyone who watched it.
Brittany Inge: What stood out to me the most was how many legendary and memorable actors there are in that movie who at the time were likely fresh faces themselves. And it makes me think about this incarnation of Boomerang and this cast and all these fresh faces that Lena has brought together in front of and behind the camera and it just makes me excited about our journeys and our future. I just think Chris Rock, Tisha Campbell, David Allan Grier, Halle Berry, Eddie Murphy, Robin Givens, Martin all those people in one film and they went on to have these phenomenal careers. So it kind of puts me back into the mindset of our show.
Tequan Richmond: I feel that movie was the introduction of a young black that was the first time I saw a young black professional, super important. And if you watch the movie and I know Eddie has spoken about this himself, but if you watch the movie the [desk represented].. it was like a black world, and that was the first time I had seen black people shown in that type of light and I feel that’s what we’re gonna do for millennials with this show.
Tetona Jackson: I agree. Everyone in that movie was black. It is very rare that you see that even in this day and age. So I thought it was very dope to see.
The Knockturnal: The show touches upon millennials dealing with differences in opinions and ideas from the older generation, in which sometimes they don’t agree. Can you speak on a time when you had to confront a difference in opinion with someone of an older generation, and how you applied that to your character?
Lala Milan: So literally two ways. One I had to go against the traditional idea of my mom working a regular job. When I first told her that I wanted to be in entertainment and when the whole social media thing kicked off for me she was literally like ‘Why don’t you just stay at your job?’. And I’m like mom look I’m making double my check in less the time, look I gotta go. She didn’t realize it was actually a true career until probably like a couple of years later. Second thing I constantly have to battle with the concept of traditional comedians. They’re not used to social media comedians and they feel like it’s a quote on quote easier path than what they do because we’re not actually quote on quote going out there as they say to comedy clubs and everything like that, but not realizing is this is hard work as well.
Brittany Inge: The battle that I’ve had that goes against the grain of the older generation would be body image. Back in the day thin was very in and also I have mentors and family members who encouraged me when I was getting into the entertainment industry like oh you gotta do this, you gotta look like this, you have to lose this much weight and all that. I go against that grain by embracing myself and celebrating the body that I have and representing for the women with curves that have that. Millennials we can be whatever size we want.
Lala Milan: C’mon thickness!
The Knockturnal: What are some of the stereotypes about millennials do you feel the show delves into and goes against?
Lala Milan: That men can’t be bisexual.
RJ Walker: Probably that men shouldn’t be vulnerable because we touch on that. I’m a vulnerable dude, like I wear my heart on my sleeve I’m out there and I don’t care about it either. I feel like more men should embrace that part of themselves because that’s why so many men end up misunderstood because they’re not really being their true selves they’re being a mask of themselves.
The Knockturnal: I noticed that with the show exploring the vulnerability of black men.
RJ Walker: That was actually one of my favorite parts of this show is that the boys actually talked about how they felt it didn’t matter whether it’s like fights between us, I don’t want to give away the show. It’s just very refreshing because we’re not seen as that. We’re seen as beings who are supposed to be strong and have it all figured out or if we don’t we’re just stupid. But we’re not seen as someone that can open up to one another and build each other up because that’s what it’s all about, we should be doing more of that.
Leland B. Martin: I think there’s too much of a hyper-masculinity in our culture specifically and I think this show goes a long way in order to kind of show a light on people actually expressing their emotions because there are too many people that bottle it hold it in, a big boys don’t cry kind of thing and that leads to a lot of issues later in life. You not being able to handle your emotions, express your emotions and all of a sudden you blow up or something of that nature. They’ll be able to see an example of people actually sharing who they are and how they feel in ways that will hopefully make them feel free enough to do the same.
Britanny Inge: And another thing that this show does is just the human-ness of black people. So often we feel pressure to be perfect, to put on to try to act like we have everything together whether it’s because we’re worried about the white gays or because we’re worried about trying to look okay in front of our friends. It really breaks down like the complexity, and the human-ness of who we are in being vulnerable and really just opening ourselves up to this is who I am and it’s okay to be flawed and this is my journey.
LaLa Milan: I feel like for me one something that it does point out as well is that black people can get along and grow together and can flourish together. Literally yes we’re all on a journey trying to figure out things individually but we’re doing it together and we’re helping each other throughout the journey through relationships whether intimate or just friendships and that’s with both the girls and guys as individual sexes and then joint as well.
The Knockturnal: So my next question is for Tequan and Tetona. Portraying Simone who has some characteristics of Bryson’s mom Jacqueline, and Bryson having some similar characteristics with Simone’s father Marcus, do you think that’s what draws them to each other?
Tetona Jackson: Definitely. I definitely think that’s what draws well I mean we’ve also been friends since we were kids. But I think that definitely chemistry wise is what draws us to each other.
Tequan Richmond: I feel like the similarities and differences are what draws us to each other. You know how they say the term opposites attract. So I feel that’s the kind of dynamic that goes on.
The Knockturnal: Lastly, What direction do you see your characters going as the show progresses?
Lala Milan: I see my character being on a never-ending journey. I know it sounds crazy but we’re young in this and I mean even in real life. We figure it out sometimes way later down the road. So for me my character like I said she’s literally doing a lot and trying to figure it out. I know one thing that’s gonna remain the same is her being true to herself. Since she’s gonna be doing that she’s gonna be constantly trying new things. I honestly don’t see her getting just locked into one thing.
Brittany Inge: I see Crystal like really bossing up in the future. She’s on a new path, she’s newly divorced so she’s figuring out her life personally than professionally she’s very team player always helping her friends being supportive. But I think for her journey, her path I see her bossing up in all areas of her life in the future.
Freedom Film LLC/Team Epiphany