Film writer and
director Kasi Lemmons once wrote: Memory is a selection of images, some
elusive, others printed indelibly on the brain. These eloquent words were
recited by 10-year old newcomer Jurnee Smollett in 1997s unnervingly sexy
family drama Eves Bayou.
memories and words play a part in her most recent role as Samantha Booke – with
an “e” – in The Great Debaters.
Now 20, Jurnee shares the screen and several passions with her co-stars Denzel
Whitaker, 17, and Nate Parker, 28, in the film that promises to say it loud and
proud for future generations of moviegoers.
middle has never been more gratifying than when you see this beautiful young starlet between these two strong-willed and incredibly articulate men. While the
film revolves around the power of words, several elements of The Great Debaters merge to create an
atmosphere of extraordinary tension and anxiety. The three emerging actors gave us some insight on the importance of the movie in a brief, yet enlightening, conversation.
What experience where you able to tap into while playing a role of someone
whos the best?
Nate Parker: I was told by my mother that being good isnt
good enough. Being the best is more than just beating someone at something. Its
about being the best at any given point in your life. Even with all the
hardships of the world and our history, we still have to compete on an
working on this film as students at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, do you
believe that theres a need for Historically Black Colleges?
Of course theres a need for Historically Black Colleges – they are an
impressive part of our history. At an
HBCU, you understand your contributions to society and you get the chance to
bond with the most gorgeous sistas in America.
Historically Black Colleges help to shine lights on so many intriguing stories
and people that are consistently swept under the rug. Think about it – dont you want to know about
the people that inspired Malcolm X and Martin Luther King? There are so many
untold stories out there – this is just one of them.
Speaking of stories, has The Great
Debaters been received by both teens [and] college grads?
Weve screened this film for every generation there is, and especially for
younger audiences. And at every screening weve gotten standing ovations. What
I especially love about younger audiences is that they are brutally honest, and
they should be because theyre somewhat untouched and still genuine.
people need to see this film to educate and entertain themselves. We use words
on the battle field and still have the power and influence because be know that
our brains are the most important weapons.
tell us about how it felt to play the role of a woman who was first?
kinda like, when youre doing something and really passionate about doing it,
you dont think about it. You just do it. Youre not thinking about the fact
that youre the first, you just want to do the best job that you can. I imagine
that its that way in lots of situations in your life. In everyday life, giving
up is not an option.In case you missed it, click here to check out AllHipHop.com’s red carpet coverage at The Great Debaters premiere in NYC for interviews with Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Jurnee Smollett, Nate Parker and Denzel Whitaker