When published in 1976, Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley, became the definitive story of the lineage of a Black family from the Mother Continent to and through enslavement in America. The book broke sales records and its television adaptation became one of the highest-rated miniseries of all time.
Haley, who wrote about events inspired by his own family, once said in an interview for the book Traits of a Healthy Family (1985) by Dolores Curran, that “The family is our refuge and our springboard; nourished on it, we can advance to new horizons. In every conceivable manner, the family is link to our past, bridge to our future.” While Demetrius Flenory is no Alex Haley—the story of his family is no less of an American saga.
Best known now as Big Meech, Demtrius Flenory and his brother Terry “Southwest T” Flenory, founded one of the most infamous organized criminal drug gangs in American history, the Black Mafia Family, via the sheer intersection of a drug epidemic and the rise of Hip-Hop culture. While the Flenory brothers are currently serving time for their crimes, it was in 2021 that 50 Cent added the BMF story to his Starz portfolio (Power, Ghost). The series is based on the Flenory brothers’ exploits and debuted to praise from fans who were familiar with the urban tales of BMF, who at one point had billboards in Atlanta.
“I’ve always looked up to my dad. But, I didn’t want to be him. I wanted to make a way for myself, like he did…but my own legacy.” —Demetrius Flenory Jr. aka Lil Meech
BMF, which was recently renewed for a third season, dramatizes the real-life BMF’s rise and features three male leads: Demetrius Flenory Jr., Da’Vinchi and Myles Truitt. The trio are portraying Big Meech, Southwest T, and a fictional character named B-Mickie, respectively, who are all navigating youth and the very grown man’s game of organized criminal drug sales. The first season of the show told the story of the creation of the BMF as an organization, while season two is focused on what made it a family.
“I think this season of BMF presents more of the motivation behind the characters,” Truitt says. “That’s the main reason why you’re getting a little bit more to everyone’s family and their relationships and their situations because it’s not just only Black Mafia Family, but also the people and the situations they come from and the people and situations they go home to.”
BMF was elevated by the casting of Flenory, Jr. aka Lil Meech for the portrayal of his real-life father.
“Other than my dad, I respect 50 a lot. He went from the streets to the Hip-Hop game, you know—that’s a whole different style of entertainment, and transferring that to film, it was amazing to see him evolving from an actor [to] producer exec, and just now owning everything,” Flenory says. “I respect and admire him a lot.”
“He has a huge influence on and off the set,” Myles Truitt says of 50. “When he’s on set, which is every once in a blue moon, but when he is on set he’s very hands-on. I have a very high level of respect for him because he knows what he wants.”
The new season of BMF is trying to show audiences the story of real-life drug dealers whose actions had real-world consequences—while not excusing what they did, but providing some explanation.
The vulnerability of youth is reflected in Truitt’s role as B-Mickie. As Meech’s second in command, he is one of the more complex characters of the season. In season two, B-Mickie rises in the ranks within the crew while also dealing with the pressure of Detective Bryant (Steve Harris) who is both his tormentor trying to get him to turn on Meech, and also a defacto father figure who helps him care for his ailing mother. “I think B-Mickie represents the average corner kid. The kid that shouldn’t be out there. He brings a bit of innocence to the lifestyle because he is playing a role inside of a different role at the same time.”
As for Flenory, Jr., he’s a 22-year-old first-time actor with a legit future in the craft. Nepotism be damned, he had to audition to get the part portraying his father and as executive producer of the series, 50 Cent put him in acting classes—every day for two years.
And it’s paying off.
In the new season of BMF, his acting is noticeably improved and other casting agents are becoming aware of his talents. He had a guest role on HBO’s award-winning series Euphoria and a drama called Taurus starring Machine Gun Kelly.
“I’m still adjusting,” says Lil Meech of his burgeoning career. “Learning how to be an actor and being on set, I love it. I feel like I’m a natural, I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do. And I can’t wait to see myself do other things beyond what I’m doing now.”
Besides Flenory Jr. and Truitt, BMF has also presented a breakout performance by actor and rapper, Da’Vinchi who portrays Terry Flenory—the younger Flenory brother who is seen again in season two with one foot in the streets and one inside his family’s home.
The young actor has hyphens in his bio; he is an actor, spoken word performer, model and actor. He has previously talked in interviews about how his career has been triggering in some ways. The 25-year-old told Complex earlier this year that the role has been havoc on his own mental health, “I was not bred to play ball on this level,” Da’Vinchi says of the role and its impact on his personal life. “It f-cks with you and then sometimes it’s a lonely feeling because you don’t know who to trust. It’s just a whole new world at every level.”
The Haitian-American actor is no stranger to big roles. He was Zoey Johnson’s (Yara Shahidi) love interest on Grown-ish, he has also been a performer for much of his life. Yet, he practices rigorous self-care in this role where he is playing a living person. “I draw inspiration from speaking to Terry and wanting to have a family and wanting to connect to family.”
He adds, “this role was very influential in Hip-Hop culture, so it impacted my career, making me more popular in the urban Hip-Hop world,” he says of his turn as Terry Flenory. “The audience will see Terry mature a lot this season into manhood. He will be in a bit of a dilemma with this new love triangle he formed.”
Da’Vinchi finds ways to relate to the role including identifying elements of their similar background. “I grew up in hardship and poverty. So my relationship with my parents was very similar to these two brothers and my mother was a super Christian, just like Meech and Terry’s mother,” says Da’Vinchi, whose character is a high-school student, business owner, and most importantly, a father.
Fatherhood is one of the biggest storylines of the season with the dads both on and off-screen having a looming presence. The relationship between Terry and his father, Charles (Russell Hornsby) is mirrored in the one between him and his brother. “Terry is so young he is just focused on making things right with his own family. While finding a happy place with his dad and making peace,” explains Da’Vinchi.
The sentiment runs true to life. “I’ve always looked up to my dad,” the younger Flenory says. “But, I didn’t want to be him. I didn’t want to do what he had to do. My dad did what [he] did because of how he grew up in Detroit. He (felt that he) couldn’t just go to school and get a good job and take care of his family. I grew up differently. I grew up looking up to my dad, but in a different way. Like, I wanted to make a way for myself, like he did…but my own legacy.”
He adds, “You know, I don’t want to be him. I can’t be him. I’m his only son, I was born with a lot of similar traits. But I’m trying to bring my family out of that. He did everything he did—sacrificed what he did, so I could end up here and have a better life.”