The plight of girls and young women - especially in the 'hood - is a topic worth our attention. It's also the plotline of a new semi-autobiographical, indie film entitled Yelling To The Sky, starring Zoe Kravitz, Gabourey Sidibe of Precious fame, and the incomparable Roots lyricist, Black Thought.
AllHipHop.com got the chance to chit chat with another cast member, the stunning Antonique Smith (a.k.a. Faith Evans from Notorious), who plays a protective sister to Zoe's character in Yelling To The Sky. The East Orange, New Jersey native is kick-butt amazing in her latest project, and she discusses what it was like to work on fight scenes, her on-set relationships, and even a little musical secret, exclusive to AllHipHop.com:
AllHipHop.com: Wow, so the first question I have for you is about that powerful fight scene at the beginning of the movie! What did you have to do to prepare for beating on that boy so ferociously?!
Antonique Smith: (laughter) You know what? That was the only thing that was really practiced prior to filming it! After the table read, we moved some chairs around, and then they brought in a stunt guy for me, and I actually jumped off chairs that you really shouldn't be jumping off of, and we got it in. I also practiced quite a bit on the punching and everything, too, but it was fun! I had to get the thing with the elbow down. But it was good! I enjoyed it!
AllHipHop.com: You're an actress that is usually all dolled-up in movies, but on this set, they had you appearing super-minimalist pertaining to your look in this project. What was it like to be so casual and made under, you know, with very little makeup etc. on camera? You were still super pretty. Was it at all freeing?
Antonique Smith: Oh my gosh, every single thing about this set was so unglamorous (laughter). I mean, it was freezing cold on the set, and we had to look incredibly poor, so there was no glamour at all in our wardrobe or clothes, there was just no comfort, period. I'm talking a cold warehouse to work in, and no trailers or anything. So I think the look fit the mood definitely! (laughter) Even though Zoe's character got her dream to come true, and she got to look cute, they just left my poor character behind. But it was also nice to an extent not to have all that stuff on. It was nice to be more relaxed for a change!
AllHipHop.com: How was it working with Zoe Kravitz? You two not only really seemed to have an actual bond on camera, but you also really looked like biological sisters. Even the baby looked authentic! (laughter)
Antonique Smith: Didn't we? We actually really felt like sisters on set. She was great to work with, and the chemistry was there behind the scenes, too. The conditions were so cold that it was sort of a lot to do deal with. But we all just sort of hung in there and got closer. It sort of made the cast and crew bond, because we were all going through the same experience together. It really seemed like it showed on film.
AllHipHop.com: Agreed, you really did seem close as a cast. Now, tell me what was it about the role that made you say, "Yep that's for me, I have to play this character"?
Antonique Smith: Wow, honestly I guess it was the way it was written, and the way she just was. She was written very cool, and it was very clear why she was the way she was. I loved digging in to the different layers of this character. As an actress, I like to dig into the layers. I really enjoy the challenge. Some people are so linear and simple, but Ola was such a complex character. She was so cool, I'm from East Orange and bubbly and silly and goofy! (laughter) I just really wanted to tackle a role that was really nothing like me at all, and she was just that. I just really thought she was cool!
AllHipHop.com: Yes, she was definitely a cool chick! Antonique, what message do you hope comes across to the viewers through their experience with this film? What do you hope they walk away with?
Antonique Smith: Ultimately, the way it ends says a lot about forgiveness and the ability to change, and I think those are the most important messages of the movie. All the characters go through a change and come out better for it in the end. I also think bullying is a very present message in the film. We have people out here hurting others and hurting themselves as a result of it. Some people are even taking their own lives because of it, so I think that is a very critical part of the movie's message as well. It's when the bullied actually becomes the bully. Also, just focusing on the idea that change is needed and possible. You can see it in the girls' relationship with their dad especially. They just wanted to be loved like everyone does. It's important for people to get that love and respect.
AllHipHop.com: Yes, well said! Alright, before you go, what's this we hear about you having some music in the works?! Have you been holding out on us ma'am? (laughter)
Antonique Smith: (giggles) Yes, I do have music coming out soon! Music is how I express Antonique, it's my passion, it's who I am! As an actress, touching other people's stories is what I do, but this music thing is actually me sharing me. There are no scripts or other people's lives; these are my own stories that demonstrate who I am! I'm excited! I've been working with the producer Jukebox and Dr Dre, Toby Gad, and a dope production team from Iceland! It's been amazing working with the best in the business!
I call my style Pop Soul with a Hip-Hop appeal, and I learned to sing from listening to Whitney Houston and singing in church. Whitney is a hometown hero of mine, because we are both from East Orange. I love Coldplay and Mary J, and my singing is really soulful. I can't wait for everyone to hear it! Actually, if you go to my YouTube channel, you can hear a little bit of it, or if you visit my website, www.Antonique.com, you can keep up with the music and see when it drops in the first or second quarter of 2013! It's so positive, and it's truly something I feel is a gift that God blessed me with to give to the world.
Yelling To The Sky held a special NYC screening earlier this week, where it received rave reviews. Purchase a copy via Amazon and other online retailers.