Exclusive: Cast Talks BET’s ‘New Edition Story’ At the Urbanworld Film Fest

Saturday, September 24 – We, at the Knockturnal caught up with the cast members of the BET 3-part miniseries The New Edition Story on their way into their 20-minute teaser followed by Q&A discussion at the Urbanworld Film Festival.

With only a few months to learn their roles, the guys talk about diving into their characters as members of old-school, heart-throb, R&B boy band New Edition; what it means to play such iconic figures, and the lesson to take away overall. Bryshere Y. GrayLuke James, Elijah Kelley, Woody McClain, Keith Powers and actual group members Michael Bivins, Ricky Bell and Ronnie DeVoe were all on the red carpet.

What was it like making this film?

Luke James (who plays Johnny Gill)

Making the film was, I mean the whole process, from the boot camp to meeting the guys, to the boot camp, to the studio to filming it was just an awesome, surreal experience. Out of it we got brotherhood. These guys I didn’t know and now I’m going to know for the rest of my life. We were able to create something for some guys who deserve so much more.

This is for us by us.

What is something that the audience can expect to learn about New Edition that they didn’t know?

Elijah Kelley (Ricky Bell)

Love. How to stick together. Brothers may fall and may come out of contact and whatnot and be upset with each other but at the end of the day the love for each other and music in general just kept it together.

Keith Powers (Ronnie DeVoe)

You’re going to learn straight up the professionalism too. The level of professionalism they kept on stage, with everything going on backstage in that scene.

Bryshere Gray (Michael Bivins)

What I hope that the industry take from this is that New Edition is one of the biggest groups that has ever hit the music industry. Like, under the Jacksons you know, it’s New Edition hip hop-wise.

Elijah Kelley

There’s Jackson Five, then there’s New Edition.

As you portray New Edition as adults, did Michael or the other New Edition members give you any career advice in terms of how you manage your career so you don’t end up in certain situations?

Elijah Kelley

Absolutely.  I think their everyday walk is a testament to how you survive in this industry. When you see the movie you’ll see the tragedies, the ups and downs, but when you see how they come out on the other end unscathed, polished, clean beautiful black men. And still together, that’s what we took away from it.

Luke James

I mean you have to be completely foolish to have to learn these guys the way we did, learn their story the way we did, to not take anything from this movie and from their story. It was an absolute great life lesson we learned in doing this movie.

What was the toughest part about it? Was it learning to sing? Was it the choreography, was it getting to the mindset of each of your characters?

Keith Powers

It was the choreography, but it was also playing our characters from young to having to embody them all the way up to in their thirties. That was the hardest because you really had to separate who they were when they were young to who they were when they older. Because they were different people, they grew up. When they were young they more naïve; when they grew up they knew more but it was more conflict…

Woody McClain (Bobby Brown)

These guys have been together for over 30 years. We had to come in and get that same chemistry within like a month. For the audience to believe that we are New Edition when you watch us…

Elijah Kelley

It … it was just awesome!

Keith Powers

And it’s hard to try to be these guys and then go talk to them the next day and you’re like, “Oh you know what, I got to add that … ” You know what I’m saying? It felt like it was endless, so it wasn’t easy but that’s what made it fun.

How did you bring your own originality to iconic roles like that?

Elijah Kelley

I’m going say this:  … Like, when you see Woody dance as Bobby, it’s going be better. When you hear him sing (referring to Luke), the Johnny Gil songs it’s going to be better. When you see us as New Edition, it’s going to be better.

Keith Powers

They created us.

Elijah Kelley

They created us. When you have a child, you want them to do all the stuff that you couldn’t do. We were like their children on this project.

Speaking with the New Edition original group members, Ricky, Mike and Ronnie.

So far, how does it feel to see your life on the screen?

Ricky Bell

Oh my God, well it’s … We tried to be on set as much as possible. It’s hard to believe that it’s really happening. At the same time we want to make sure it’s right and we don’t want to be too nit-picky. We want to just trust Chris Robinson and Abdul and Jesse to do their jobs and at the end of the day we were able to just sit back and watch these guys perform and they did an amazing job. We were just extremely proud.

Mike Bivins

I’m overwhelmed I’m normally answering a lot of questions, but I’m just excited. I can’t wait. I want to go but some popcorn, I want to sit down and I just want to watch. I’m just taking it all in. I think it’s awesome that y’all are on the red carpet and thank god for putting the microphones in front of us and hopefully they can hear us, and y’all taking pictures so they can see us and I don’t know, what you want to say Ron?

Ronnie Devoe

That’s it, we right here. New Edition at Urban World Film Fest is fully official we breaking records and making history.

What do you want America to take away from your live, your legacy?

Ronnie Devoe


Mike Bivins

Yes exactly, there’s redemption and inspiration in our story. We’re just happy to share that experience with you guys.

Be sure to tune into The New Edition Story on BET this coming January 2017.

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