|Pictured (from l to r) at last week’s screening of “35 and Ticking” are Tracey Lungelow, Ramona Lisa Alexander, writer/director Russ Parr, Parr’s publicist Wyllisa Bennett and VCR. The screening was presented by the Roxbury International Film Festival at the Stuart Street Playhouse. (Colette Greenstein photo)
|Laz Alonzo (Jason Taylor) and Paula Patton (Sabrina Watson) star in the romantic comedy “Jumping the Broom,” which opens in theaters May 6. The film also includes Angela Bassett, who plays Sabrina’s mother, in this story about two families meeting before upcoming nuptials. (Jonathan Wenk photos )
It’s been all about the movies lately. Just got back from attending the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City where I attended a couple of panels and saw some great documentaries, including one called “Beat, Rhymes and Life” about my favorite hip hop group, Tribe Called Quest.
It gave the scoop on how the group was formed, their rise and subsequent breakup, plus an inside look at the strife between Phife and Q-Tip. After the screening there was a QandA with director Michael Rapaport and Tribe members Ali and Phife Dawg. Sorry, ladies, Q-Tip wasn’t there.
And, recently I had the opportunity to participate in an interview [for the black press from around the country], with actors Paula Patton and Laz Alonso, who star in the upcoming romantic comedy “Jumping the Broom.” Produced by T.D. Jakes and Tracey E. Edmonds (of Our Stories Films), the movie is about the upcoming nuptials of “uptown” Sabrina Watson (Patton) and “downtown” Jason Taylor (Alonso) and what happens when their two seemingly different families meet for the first time at their weekend wedding on the Watson family estate on Martha’s Vineyard.
The film is directed and co-produced by Salim Akil (“The Game”) in his feature film debut and also includes Angela Bassett as Claudine Watson, Loretta Devine as Pam Taylor, Meagan Good (“Stomp the Yard”), Tasha Smith (“Couples Retreat,” “Why Did I Get Married Too?”), Julie Bowen (“Modern Family”), Romeo Miller (“Honey”) and Mike Epps (“The Hangover,” “Resident Evil: Extinction”).
Here’s what Patton and Alonso had to say about their experience on “Jumping the Broom,” past film roles and the state of black love in Hollywood today.
How would you describe Sabrina Watson?
Paula Patton: Sabrina Watson is a romantic. She falls in love easily. I called her a love bug. When you first meet her in the film, she’s made some wrong decisions about men and has entered into things too quickly. Then, she calls on God to help guide her to find the right man for her. Then, she literally runs into Jason Taylor who becomes the man she’s going to marry.
Why were you guys interested in this role?
Paula Patton: When I read the script, I loved it. I just thought it was a great project. I thought it was a wonderful, romantic comedy. I wanted to do a comedy. I loved the character, Sabrina. I just immediately knew I had to do it. It just was something I felt very passionately about.
Laz Alonso: For me, when I look back on my childhood and what got me interested in eventually growing up and becoming an actor, I look at some of my favorite movies. Guys, we like action films. We like to always talk about the real macho blockbuster, shoot ‘em up movies, but the movies that stand out in my head were romantic comedies [like] “Boomerang” [and] “Coming to America.” Those films that are forever classics, those are the ones that inspired me as a kid and brought my family together to watch a movie that made you laugh and cry and believe in love. So, when this film came about, and I read the script, it reminded me of the films that I grew up watching and fell in love with this business in general.
Paula, how has your life changed since “Precious?”
Paula Patton: Oh, wow. I don’t know. I don’t know if a movie can change your life … But it changed my career in that, perhaps, people are more open to different roles that I can play. Being a part of that film gave me more hope and belief in the fact that we could have more art in movies today.
Cinema has become such a capitalistic venture. It’s all about the bottom line and how much money we’re going to make. “Precious” was a labor of love, a true piece of art. It went on to do incredible things and win all these awards. It gave me space in film as an art form. Other than that, it’s just blessed me with more opportunities to work.
Laz, you’ve worked with some great directors like James Cameron and Spike Lee. After working with such directors, do you come away with anything, any ways to improve upon your acting or techniques?
Laz Alonso: Absolutely. It’s funny because, when you step up on a set, you’re not only hired for your ability to portray the character that you’ve been hired to do, but I do believe that there is a certain work ethic that they expect you to have. Working with James Cameron and Spike Lee, it elevated my work ethic tremendously. I feel like every film that I leave from, I leave with something that I didn’t show up with.
When I left “Avatar,” I learned that my attention to detail was much, much greater than it was prior to working on the film. I saw Jim one time sit at a table with two buckets of rocks and go through each individual stone to give the animator a very, very specific texture and color of stone that he wanted for one of his scenes. That level of detail – you just don’t have the opportunity to see what goes on behind the scenes sometimes. So, seeing someone like him pay such attention to every little nook and cranny in his film, it’s no accident that he’s as successful as he is.
The same thing with Spike Lee. So, I feel like working with these guys has made me a better actor and just understand the material a lot better as well.
“Jumping the Broom” opens in theaters nationwide this Friday, May 6.
Coming Up …
Chelsea Handler, comedian and host of E!’s “Chelsea Lately” performs stand-up at the Agganis Arena on Tuesday, May 10.
The Wilbur Theatre presents “Wale” on Wednesday, May 11 at 8 p.m.
Grammy Award-winner Adele comes to the House of Blues on Sunday, May 15.
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