From The Writer & Director Of “Love And Basketball”, New Film “Beyond The Lights”
Get excited ladies and gentlemen. It’s no secret that there is a constant struggle to get quality films starring black actors to the big screen. But there’s good news. Writer and director Gina Prince-Bythewood, known for Love and Basketball, Disappearing Acts and Secret Life of Bees, is bringing you a new project called Beyond the Lights.
The film, originally titled Blackbird, will star a few of our favorites including Nate Parker and the rising star Gugu Mbatha-Raw.
Here’s the synopsis:
[Beyond the Lights] is the story of Noni Jean, a hot new artist who has just won a Grammy and is primed for stardom. But the pressures of success compel her to nearly end her life until she is saved by a young police officer. They fall hard for each other, despite the protests of their parents who want each to focus on their own career ambitions. But he might be the missing piece to unlock her artistic potential.
The film also stars Danny Glover and Minnie Driver as Gugu’s mother.
The film backed by Relativity Media and BET is scheduled to be released November 14, 2014. Afterward, it’ll have an exclusive television premiere in the U.S. and South Africa on BET.
According to an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the inspiration for the film came when Prince-Bythewood was listening to Alicia Keys perform “Diary” in 2007. She spent years developing the film, fighting with the studio to cast the right leading actress.
She told EW, “The studios wanted a big star, and I wanted the right person for the role.”
Prince-Bythewood ended up hiring her own casting agent to do the job properly.
“There is an innate vulnerability in Gugu. And you can sense her star power. That’s what we needed to believe–that she could be Rihanna or Beyoncé.”
Still Sony wasn’t convinced and Prince-Bythewood took matters into her own hands once again. She produced an eight minute sneak peek of the film with Mbatha-Raw in the role and found financiers at BET and Relativity Media.
“It was so nice to sit in a room and not hear that the lead is a black woman and she’s not going to sell.’ Rather they said, ‘We think she’s a star, who do you want for your male lead?’” Prince-Bythewood said.
Yes! I don’t know about you all but I’m ready for this one. I had the privilege of seeing a screening of Belle, starring Mbatha-Raw, and it was amazing as was she in the role. Plus it’s always nice to see black folk teaming up and using their forces for good. #Ready.
Take a look at the trailer below and some pictures from the upcoming film on the next page.