Even those hesitant on wearing their hearts on their sleeve couldn’t help but feel the love in the air Tuesday night at the SVA Theater in Chelsea, New York for the red carpet premiere of ‘The Photograph‘.
Albeit the cool breeze left behind after the evening’s rain shower, everyone could feel the warmth radiating throughout the room as cast and crew made their way down the press-lined red carpet.
“I’m feeling great, you know I was a little bit late for my premiere so I appreciate ya’ll hanging around,” said a sheepish Issa Rae, who stars in the film as the character Mae Morton. Humbly adding that tardiness is “not her style” the multi-talented creator, writer, and actress of HBO’s, ‘Insecure‘ began to smile when asked about the importance of having people of color on the big screen.
“I think if we don’t do it, nobody else is going to do it,” Issa said before continuing, “I think it’s up to us as the storytellers of this generation to not only tell our stories but to empower other people in our community to tell their stories as well.” The truth behind Rae’s words hold a weight of their own considering ‘The Photograph’, which reflects an alluring modern-day romance featuring black leads sans tragedy, is a storyline that most cinemas haven’t seen the likes of since the late 90’s to the early ’00s – this is up until film writer and director Stella Meghie decided to make a change.
“I mean I want to see us, you know? Meghie asked. Gesturing around herself, Stella continued, “I want to see us in all of our different complexions and all of our different complexities on-screen loving, growing, finding ourselves.”
The film follows Mae as she uncovers an array of old photos and letters left behind by her estranged mother, Christina in the wake of her death. Seeking to find out more about her mother’s past, Mae winds up on a journey of self-discovery and the path of romance after meeting a rising journalist, Michael Block, played by LaKeith Stanfield.
With a refreshing break away from films that often portray black leads in a trauma-laden storyline Rae reflected on her thoughts when approached to play Mae. “The script came my way, and I was just like, ‘this is a black love story and it’s just a love story’, and [Meghie] wants me to play the lead and it’s a character who I could identify with,” Rae said.
Also finding herself connecting to her character, was Chante’ Adams who plays the role of Mae’s distant mother, Christina Eames. “What pulled me in was that [Christina] was so complex and complicated and passionate, and she had so many layers that I was able to dive so deep into; as an actor that’s like a dream role,” Adams said with a smile. To truly capture the essence of her character, Adams didn’t have to stray too far for research. “Girl, I called my mama and asked her what it was like to be 20 in the 80’s and fall in love because that was essentially what Christina was going through,” Adams added with a laugh.
While filming, comedian and actor Lil Rel Howery also found himself reflecting on what his parents went through during their youth and the importance of humanizing them.
“[The Photograph] is a romance but [there] is something in there when you start to learn who your parents really are; they’re adults too, they [have] been through the same things,” Howery said with a shrug. “A lot of the time we put our parents on this ‘superhero’ pedestal but when we have kids and we become their age you like, ‘damn how did [they] do that?” Howery joked. “I think about it all the time like, ‘how did they feed us?’ like, that’s the budget [they] had? We expect [our parents] to love us unconditionally and I think sometimes we don’t do the same especially after we get to know who they really are.”
‘The Photograph’ is sure to present many moments that will open your mind, make you laugh out loud, and melt your heart along the way. So this Friday, February 14th, head straight to your nearest theater and check out ‘The Photograph’ – a picture-perfect way to spend your Valentine’s Day.
Last Friday, influential Atlanta-based couples celebrated the beauty of Black Love and THE PHOTOGRAPH with an intimate Black Love Dinner hosted by Will and Heather Packer at Atlanta’s premiere venue, The Gathering Spot. Guests were also able to step into a custom luxe photo studio that brought the film to life with black and white photos. Couples had their Black Love captured on camera by celebrity photographer Lenny S. Roc Nation’s SVP Lenny “Kodak Lens” Santiago is a veteran music executive, hip hop producer and photographer known for capturing moments of some of the biggest stars in entertainment throughout history. Participating couples included: Will and Heather Packer, T.I. and Tiny, James and Maria Collins (The Maria More Show), Lamman Rucker (Greenleaf) and Kelly Rucker, Mo Ivory and Robert Marting, Tanya Sam (The Real Housewives of Atlanta) and Paul Judge, Frank Ski (The Morning Culture, V103) and Patrice Rodriguez, Ludacris (Fast & Furious) and Eudoxie, Egypt Sherrod and DJ Fadelf, and Tirrell and Kristen Whitley.