The new family drama “Waves” from director Trey Edward Schultz tackles difficult themes that has left audiences emotionally moved and affected.
At a special tastemakers screening of the film last week in New York, a few central members of the Waves cast sat down with Vulture reporter Hunter Harris to discuss the lessons to be learned from Waves and their hesitations before making the film.
The script for the film was initially written with a white family in mind. For Renee Elise Goldsberry, one of her concerns signing on to play the central mother was that certain subject matters in the film would carry a different meaning with a black family as the focus.
“I have a son thats 10, and I was very concerned with the idea that this would be on screen and that we would perhaps be reinforcing stereotypes. So I also had a conversation with Trey and he is tremendously humble and sweet because he had that conversation again with me and he basically said, ‘I understand all those things and we have a problem on our hands, but should I not cast the best actor?’”
“One of the things I love most about this film is that it’s a film about an African American family, and our issues are our issues. It’s not a story about the world, it’s about the thing that we’re responsible for and the mistakes that we make, and I love this movie for that,” Goldsberry continued.
When Kelvin Harrison Jr. got the script, he felt it was the universal themes that reassured him that the casting would work.
“Seeing the parallels between our two coexisting lives in different parts of the world and in different races. Seeing how, you know, this did get lost in themes of grief and and connection and communication that are similar. And then I could tell the role was for me. So then I got the script and I read it and I was like, yeah, I guess we have a challenge on our hands, but let’s take it off.”
For Sterling K. Brown, who plays an overbearing father in the film, he appreciated how the movie could help parents examine the process of raising their children.
“It’s all about how parents fool themselves into thinking that it’s their job to sort of move their children into their image or why not? And the misnomer is twofold. Number one is that they kind of come into the world who they already are. And your job is to sort of help them become the best version of themselves, not turn them into anything other than who they already are.”
The film examines the approach of treating children like copies rather than individuals, and Brown says great lessons can be learned from doing the opposite.
“The learning ideally should go both ways. When there is not so much ego involved and you’re open to the idea that like you have something to learn, there is something of value coming from this young person, then you don’t feel the need to talk at them all the time. But you’re an authentic conversation with them.”
Waves is in theaters now.