Celeb Fans Continue to Stay "True To The Game"
More than 25 years after it was first released the novel that has been credited as birthing the genre of urban fiction has finally made it to the big screen. Terri Woods’ “True To The Game” was released in theaters on Friday September 8th. The arrival of this film adaptation has been highly anticipated.
The book, which was an early aughts fixture in the lockers of middle-school girls from Newark, Irvington, East Orange and other urban areas across the country, is a compelling tale of sex, drugs, and violence on the Philadelphia streets. It’s also a love story with a tragic ending too many people who have lost someone to “the game” can relate to.
On Wednesday September 6th the film’s stars and supporters gathered in New York to attend the official premiere of the film.
Executive producer Manny Halley was passionate about why he was adamant about bringing the story to life. He stated “I'm from the streets, I’m real and that book is the street’s realest book out” and “I think this book touches all kind of emotions. It’s what goes on in real life with the bad guys and with the good guys and with the good girls...It's an all around love story and I wanted an urban street love story to be apart of my first legacy.” Halley hopes his ten year effort to make the movie a reality will inspire others to create their own opportunities as well, “I would hope that it's more filmmakers out there willing to take chances. Don’t let nobody tell you you can’t do something. You can do it. I did it. You can do it.” Though he is fiercely independent he doesn’t believe in sacrificing merit to achieve, a trend some urban filmmakers have succumbed to in the past, “all we gotta do is make sure we put the quality on the screen... whether it takes three years or five years we just take our time, make it right so we can show people that we know what we’re doing.”
Vivica A. Fox who portrays the always outrageous Shug Avery definitely felt like Halley knew what he was doing. The star who dazzled in a fitted emerald green crushed velvet suit, a gold Balmain bag, and Versace shoes brought her own personal shine to the character she had been dying to play since reading the book more than a decade ago.
“Every time that you see Shug you see a different hairdo. I definitely experimented with the character and gave her different hairdos to capture different essences of the film, different stages of the film. I was really glad that Manny the executive producer of the film and Preston Whitmore trusted my choices.” Fox says that the hairdos were “in case she had to go on the real real quick”, a definite possibility in “the game.
Actress Andrea-Rachel Parker, who portrayed Destiny on the Starz’s hit “Power” and stars in HBO’s upcoming original series “The Deuce”, spoke on the value of a book like “True To The Game.” “Books like ‘True To The Game’ I feel can aid in teaching kids a good message, as long as it's not the only thing that's used as a tool and a tactic if that makes sense” she said “I think that we have to watch what our children read and what our children watch and what they say and what they do. But I do think that there’s a lot of positive things that can come out of just being honest, real, and putting things in children's faces as long as you have a conversation with them after.” She shared how reading books like these as a teen helped to expand her world view stating that when you’re young you “can't actually go out and do things so reading books like this allows you to travel, to experience, to understand, to be in a different person's situation.”
This is a trait she shares with her “Power” co-star Donshea Hopkins. The fifteen year old who portrays Raina St. Patrick revealed that while she had not yet read the book she was “excited” about the film. While Hopkins began talking coherently at just nine months old she says “reading came a little bit later when I was about one” and jokingly describes herself as an “early late bloomer.” Like “True To The Game” Hopkins favorite books (including “A Wrinkle in Time” and “The Fault in Our Stars) all have a lesson to be learned. The lesson she learned from Raina meeting her demise this season? “Power has taught me take risks but take your brain with you.”
The lesson that Stanley R. Atwater learned from his role as Rich Green? Embrace fear. The first time actor learned a lot from played the ill-fated enforcer “It really kind of let me know that you can prepare for what you think death is gonna be but you still gotta realize that there is gonna be a moment where you are fearful and you gotta embrace fear.”
The music executive easily connected with his bad guy character “tapping into Rich green wasn’t hard because at my day job I have to be an enforcer so it was real, real, easy to get into that role. So I’m not necessarily a bad guy I just know what I need done.”
Atwater described the music and drugs industries as “kissing cousins” but it was the intersection between music and film that ruled the red carpet. The movie’s soundtrack is almost as impressive as the story. It features music from frequent Halley collaborator Keyshia Cole as well as Philly native Meek Mill, Jeremih, Cardi B., Migos, 21 Savage, Nipsey Hussle.
Hopkins has ventured into the music scene as well her first EP 3Point2 as “all about a positive vibe and loving yourself and loving other people for who they are.”
Actress and America’s Next Top Model alum Sheena Sakai said “They’re not very different music and acting. I think that they’re very similar because they both involve storytelling and creating from spirit...it's all about emoting it's all about telling that story it's all about finding that relationship between people and connecting with them.
The beauty described her music as “soul-pop” and like many other artists says she “doesn’t pay attention to genre.”
She shared how impressed she was after seeing the film’s trailer “I love when books are turned into films. It's so exciting!
Get your fill of that excitement by checking out “True To The Game” in theaters this weekend!