Today is the official day we universally celebrate love. It’s also the day we celebrate the launch of Universal’s newest release, “The Photograph,” a love story that’s sweet, sentimental, and simple, but in a good way. In fact, the simplicity of the storyline is what attracted Issa Rae to play the lead character of Mae in the Stella Meghie romance.
“[It’s] a Black love story that had no gimmicks, that wasn’t marred by horror or traumatic events, that was just a beautiful multi-generational love story,” Rae told us during a press junket at The London Hotel in Los Angeles. “I think that is what I’ve missed seeing and I think Stella did a beautiful job writing and creating that world.”
LaKeith Stanfield, who play’s Mae’s romantic interest, Michael, agreed, saying “The script, when I read it, read like a beautiful painting. I could see the environment we’d be in. I could see the people interacting and I just thought it would be a beautiful opportunity to explore love in a way that I would love to go see.”
The world Stella creates in the film whose settings alternate between Louisiana and New York City, is one in which Issa’s character, equipped with new information about her mother’s past, has to decide whether she’s willing to make different choices for the sake of love. Very early on in the movie, we see Mae’s desire to choose differently, even if the execution isn’t always perfect.
“I think when you’re armed with the information of the past, when you’re armed with seeing an example of mistakes — I know for me that’s something I take to heart,” Issa shared. “I listen a lot and I observe a lot and when you have the opportunity to see someone go through something before you, I think you’d be a fool not to at least question how you’re going to go about the same thing.”
While LaKeith’s character didn’t have the same provocation regarding his romantic relationships, we see Michael attempt to do things a bit differently as well when Mae piques his interest, which wasn’t surprising to the movie’s leading man.
“I think love affords you an opportunity sometimes with different people or individuals, and as you go through love and relationships to be a bit more courageous the second time around or make decisions differently that will hopefully yield results that complement the way that you hope to feel about yourself or see yourself,” LaKeith said of his character’s bold persistence of Mae. “It’s only a reflection of the other person so you’re trying to figure out what’s the right way to treat yourself so you treat them that way. So I think [Michael’s] just figuring out what’s the power move. What’s the thing that’s going to put me in the position to receive the love I want to see.”
You’ll have to hit theaters this weekend to see if Michael figures it out.