- Category: Spotlight
- Created on 09 January 2017
- Written by Shernit Wiggins-Wynder
- Hits: 63
“I am honored to portray this character and that Cathy Hughes trusted me to headline a project that she is so passionate about,” commented White.
“There are few movies that show all shades and sides of the political and economic spectrums, in particular, films featuring persons of color, without catering to one side. Here we see everyone represented and every character has a purpose in this unique story. This family didn’t come from wealth; they built it.”
When Michael Jones (White) steps up to run the company, he is confronted by the sins of the past, and the dangers of the present.
T2T: Brian, what excited you about doing this film?
BRIAN: To tell the truth. I've never seen the truth told like this on television. I went to Dartmouth, but I also played in the NFL. My daddy's from St. Louis, Missouri; my mom's from Topeka, Kansas; and, their families represent the divide in this TV family. My dad's side was church folks and my mom's side was 18 mortuaries and Cadillacs. You don't get much different as house and field...and as far as white collar and blue-collar in our community, and I've never seen this story told like this. As a matter of fact, the only show I've seen discuss these type of topics, was "In the Heat of the Night" with Captain O'Connor, back in the day. They used to discuss racial topics, as "matter of fact" and this show does, also. Politics, economics, class, etcetera. The topics we usually stay away from as African Americans, this show embraces. I think it's because of Cathy Hughes’ journey as a female business woman living in America and even a little bit of truth about her struggle and journey, is so relevant in this day and age, and I am excited about it and wanted to help.
I have a picture of my grandmother, Pearl Bowser, sitting on a Cadillac in 1938. She owned 16 mortuaries and my grandfather had passed, and she doubled the amount of mortuaries they had and said, "The way you present yourself to the world, is the way they will receive you." And she was right. She died in 1998 and that was the philosophy of Cathy, and so the first time I talked to her, I told her, "Whatever it says in this script, I'm gonna follow and I'll support you… cause people need to hear that message and people need to know more about Cathy Hughes."
T2T: Brian, you have a plethora of films in which you play antagonistic characters like in Tyler Perry’s “Good Deeds” and “I Can Do Bad All by Myself,” “Fighting” and “Stomp the Yard,” and protagonists in films like “Cabin in the Woods,” “The Shield,” and Disney’s “The Game Plan"… also, your character in Cathy Hughes' film, "Media," Michael Jones, who's the brother of Clay, played by Pooch. You are the city's lead attorney who wants to run for Mayor. How did your past feature films prepare you to take the character, "Michael" to the level you took him?
BRIAN: The dichotomy of my life experience, like Denise mentioned earlier. All I did in my life was a prelude to preparation for this movie. I'm an Ivy League grad who ended up going into the NFL for a living and then transitioned to Wall Street. It's the same kind of street fight, but it's definitely a different game than what Michael does. He's into politics and he's not in the family business. And he thinks politics is the dirtiest world he's ever seen, but he sees it can give him a lot of power and money. He comes to find out that the family business he's been running away from and afraid of...has even more power, more politics, and more money involved in it. Michael is the odd-ball of the family. He's the "white sheep" of the family. His family is very much like the Godfather, and Penny is Marlon Brando. Michael is the son that everybody looks at him and says, "He's too clean." Dad is not around and Dad was a "square" and Mom had to show Dad how to roll up his sleeves and make stuff work. From the time that Dad left us, I've been the least likely person to get involved with the company, because I don't want to be like Dad. As the story unfolds, we find that even the most corporate, the least street, the least dummy...of the family can roll up his sleeves, and for family—CHANGE. I make some changes for the good and bad and betterment of the family. All of that, from my past, learning how the world really works versus how we really want it to work. I get to play both sides. That's what I find exciting. What I learned in my life- the good and bad in corporate. I learned to support the good and bad in Hollywood and I bring that all into play in Michael's experience.
I just want to add about this overall show. Maybe Penny may remember something different. This is for Pooch and this is for all of us. Pooch named this as Empire meets Godfather, I don't think that I've seen in my entire lifetime, an African American family that was presented white collar in a show that wasn't a comedy or didn't have a soapy tone. Like Empire, it has an undercurrent of soap. It's very salacious, it's very scandalous. It's water-cooler fodder. It's a great show, but it's definitely soap. I haven't seen anything featuring African Americans that was able to remove that edge and stick to the dramatic format and not push comedy, and showcase an African American family that was wealthy, but then also had all the bottom, all the edge of the Dynasties, Dallas...and Empires of the world. And I think for those reasons, this show has never been seen. It's like taking the Cosby's and giving them guns, and some edge, and some street sense. Something you've never seen. It's always an either or, for us. This election revealed that there's not an even/or...there were some Black people who voted for Trump. And so in this story, we see all of that; we see the people who voted for Trump, we see the people who didn't. We see everything in between and it's going to clash and I think all Americans will be able to relate to it. And that's why it's so exciting.
T2T: Why should the public watch this film?
I want people to watch the film to learn what we've seen for the last 8 years but have not talked about. The Barack and Michelle Obama or Jay Z and Beyonce or Oprah and Stedman, what it looks like at home for these families in 2016. And there are lots and lots and lots of them. Jay Z is rapping openly about having 250 million dollars in stock, but also occupying the Wall Street movement. That's all well and good, but hopefully, our show will set the table for what that entails. If you are not on the board at Goldman and Saks, then how are you occupying the Wall Street movement? Communities should be having these types of conversations. And our families have buying power and tons of it, and families like the Joneses are showing how to use it.