Really Love, the film centered around the whirlwind relationship between a “struggling artist” and an aspiring lawyer has arrived. Before the film’s release, Cassius Life had the opportunity to speak with the film’s director Angel Kristi Williams and writer Felicia Pride about the movie.
In the film, we meet Isaiah (Kofi Sirobe) an artist who is struggling to get his work noticed and at the same time lacking motivation. He seems to find that motivation when he meets Stevie (Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing), a young lawyer, and they immediately hit it off, embarking on a romance together that has its ups and most definitely some downs.
In our conversation, we didn’t focus on Sirobe and Loi-Sing, but the film’s other stars, the city of Washington D.C., aka Chocolate City, and the art. We asked both Williams and Pride about the importance of the film’s setting and how they selected the art for the film.
“Yeah, I was living in D.C. as an artist, and I feel like D.C. is such a rich place for Black people. It’s called Chocolate City. Things are changing rapidly in D.C., but it has such a rich history for Black people in terms of having its own sound, its own art, its own just culture and way of life and slang,” Pride begins. “And often when we see D.C., it’s represented by politics. So it was also an opportunity for us to show a different side of D.C., to show the artistic side of D.C., to show the communal side of D.C., to show the resilient side of DC and the people who live there. So that’s why D.C. was such a prime place for us. Both our connection to it as artists, but also an opportunity to show Black people in an amazing way and an amazing city.”
…when we see D.C., it’s represented by politics. So it was also an opportunity for us to show a different side
A far as the art selection, Williams revealed to us that she reached out to popular Atlanta-based artist Gerald Lovell to provide the art for the film. “So, Felicia was writing, and I knew that there would come a time where we will have to find this artist, right? And finding the artist was a huge challenge. And I was blessed to be able to call Quran Davis a mentor for the project, and I just talked with her about like Noah Davis was a huge inspiration for what we wanted Isaiah’s work to look and feel like, but he’s no longer with us,” Williams explained. “And so we really wanted to find an artist that could create work for the film. And one morning, I woke up, and I had a DM from Quran, and she had sent me Gerald Lovell, who’s a painter, his Instagram page, and I was blown away. I sent them a cold email and was like, “Hey, I’m directing this film, and I’m looking to collaborate with an artist.”
“He read the script, I think that day, and emailed me back and said, “This is me. This is my life. I’m trying to get my first solo show. I would love to collaborate with you. So we rented him a U-Haul. He drove up to Baltimore with all of his paintings in the back of the U-Haul. And then he painted more when he got there. I mean, just such a beautiful human being when I’m just grateful to have his work in the sound,” Williams further added.
..it’s also a film about love of self and love of community and love of dreams and love of place and love of art.
When it came to the actual art exhibits in the movie, Williams explained that the idea was to make them look and feel like real exhibits. “And in terms of like the show, I worked with my production designer and Selma Golden who’s also. She gave me the advice. She said, ‘If you’re going to make a film about an artist, the shows and the film needs to be curated like you would an actual gallery show,'” Williams revealed to Cassius Life. ‘Don’t just put art up. Just throw anything up on the walls. Like really think about what you’re saying with his work and how is it changing over the course of the film.’ And that was the best advice that I got from both her and Nicola Vassal. And so we –myself and my production designer– really spent a lot of time finding both D.C. and Baltimore-based artists. And it just became this incredible combination of all these Black artists coming together. And we were able to put that work in the film.”
We wrapped things up by asking what they hoped viewers walked away with after watching the film, and both Williams and Pride agreed they wanted people to feel full on the idea of love. “I think this idea of love being very wide in the film. Yes, it is like a romantic drama, but it’s also a film about love of self and love of community and love of dreams and love of place and love of art,” Pride stated. So just for us to kind of walk away, feeling the love around us, the love of ourselves, of our work, of our dreams, of our community. That would be amazing.”
“Yeah. We just want people to feel full,” Williams added.
We can’t argue with that because we feel they understood the assignment in that department.
You can watch the entire interview with Angel Kristi Williams and Felicia Pride above and if you haven’t already, cozy up with bae (if you have one) and stream Really Love exclusively on Netflix right now.
Photos: Really Love