On Monday, December 13, we attended the NYC premiere of Women of the Movement screening and red carpet event at Metrograph.
Following the screening was a panel discussion moderated by Arisha Hatch from Color of Change, with participants Marissa Jo Cerar (showrunner, creator, and executive producer), Adrienne Warren (Mamie Till-Mobley), Cedric Joe (Emmett Till), Tonya Pinkins (Alma), and Ray Fisher (Gene Mobley).
We spoke with a few cast members: Adrienne Warren, Cedric Joe, and Ray Fisher on the red carpet about their role in the production and what they hope viewers will take away.
Do you recall when you first learned about Emmett Till? What was going through your head at the time vs. now?
Cedric Joe: ”I was around 9 years old. And I found out from my grandmother because it’s not really something that gets talked about a lot in school, so it was definitely a story that stood out to me. It’s really emotional. It’s something that no mother should have to go through, no child, no one should have to go through. To know that stories like these are going on today and to be able to have the opportunity to play a role like this is really an honor.”
Ray Fisher: “What’s wild is, I remember learning about it briefly in high school. It was maybe half a page, a quarter of a page in a history book. And it was sandwiched in with a lot of other black history. So it didn’t have as profound of an impact on me until I got to learn about it in my adult life and had a greater appreciation for what the story actually meant and just how close to that story we still are today.”
What are you hoping people will take away from this story, especially during these times?
Adrienne Warren: “I am looking for people to learn more about this story and more specifically to learn about the people involved in this story… To learn about Emmett Till, not as a victim but who he is as a boy, who he was (we don’t learn about these people)… and to learn that this is a family, and this is a woman who had incredible strength, but she didn’t get there overnight! The strength wasn’t there overnight. We don’t allow women to show those quiet moments of pause, the moments in between her journey and our journeys in life, and I’m grateful to shed a little bit of insight into that and I hope they take that with them.”
Cedric Joe: “I’m hoping that they understand the story and know more about Mamie and Emmett and how they were. What’s great about it is how much MJ [Marissa Jo Cerar—showrunner, creator and executive producer] did of humanizing them.”
Ray Fisher: “What I hope people take away from this more than anything is inspiration… to look at Mamie Till-Mobley, to look at what she was able to do not only as a woman, but a black woman in the ‘50s in the United States of America. I think it should be something that hopefully will inspire folks to continue to fight for justice, equality, and all of these things.”
You’ve just finished a fantastic run as Tina on Broadway and now you’re playing Mamie Till. As an actress, is it more challenging to play biographical characters vs. fictional characters?
Adrienne Warren: “I think each project it’s about what you put into it, and biographical projects are always difficult because it’s about our ancestors or it’s about someone that’s here. And so for me, it’s about losing myself in the job so that I am doing my best to pay homage to whoever that person is. I wanna do whatever I can to honor them and do whatever I can specifically today to honor Mamie and her story and her legacy that I want to continue …. when I’m long gone. So anything I can do to support people’s story in that way, to shed light on people’s humanity and life and pain and those moments in between that I spoke of before, then I’m doing my job right.”
Women of the Movement follows the story of Mamie Till-Mobley, who found strength and power in seeking justice for her son, Emmett Till, a 14 year-old boy who was brutally murdered in a 1955 Jim Crow South.
The historical drama is set to air on January 6, 2022 on ABC. For more information on the episodes, click here.