By KIMBERLY ALSUP & GEORGE PRINGLE
As TV & Film Bloggers for Team #SonyasSpotlight, George Pringle and I have been on the move in Atlanta – covering red carpet affairs and working on film sets. Not only did we get the opportunity to visit the set of Bad Dad Rehab and speak with the amazing cast recently, but we were also included in the Bad Dad Rehab Tele-Press conference with Malik Yoba, Robert Ri’chard, Rob Riley, Wesley Jonathan, Rick Gonzalez, Carl Seaton, Roger Bobb, Keronda “KiKi” McKnight, and Robyn Green Arrington. To top off the excitement we attended a private screening hosted by Malik Yoba. Wednesday, June 29 in Atlanta. Bad Dad Rehab premieres on Sunday, July 3 at 7pm. The film, written by Keronda “KiKi” McKnight, was the winner of the 2015 American Black Film Festival Screenplay Competition sponsored by TV One.
Shawn: Wesley Jonathan (The Soul Man, Roll Bounce)
Jared: Rob C. Riley (Hit the Floor, Bourne Legacy)
Tristan: Robert Ri’chard (Coach Carter, One on One, Cousin Skeeter
Pierre: Rick Gonzalez (Coach Carter, Roll Bounce)
Mr. Leon: Malik Yoba (Empire, NY Undercover)
DIRECTOR: Carl Seaton
PRODUCER: Roger Bobb
SCREENPLAY: Keronda “KiKi” McKnight
VP, Original Programming & Production for TV One: Robyn Green Arrington
Bad Dad Rehab is about four men who are in denial of their poor parenting skills. After turbulence with their respective baby mamas and ex-wives force them to take definitive action, Tristan, Shawn, Pierre, and Jared attend a rehab for deadbeat dads that uses unusual methods to help them become true fathers. Through all the hilarity, hijinks, drama, and soul searching, the men discover fatherhood is less about making babies, and more about making men.
Bad Dad Rehab is a film for all age groups. While viewing a pre-screening of the film, George and I experienced many emotions – which brought forth laughter and even tears. Everyone knows someone that fits one of the characters, which makes the film connect with all our personal experiences in some way.
Check out some of the highlights from our set visit and interviews:
MALIK YOBA: Mr. Leon operates a catalyst for growth and development for the dads. He began an organization called the Fatherhood Project Foundation which was inspired by his daughter. He broke up with her mom and it didn’t end on the best terms and there weren’t any resources available at the time. He came to the point where he began praying for her and things turned around. So there is a personal connection to the character he plays in Bad Dad Rehab. Mr. Leon is similar to his real life and the work that he is doing with his foundation. Malik noted that a lot of healing needs to be done and that nobody in the cast did Bad Dad Rehab for a paycheck. “Everyone had a personal connection” Malik said. Malik also noted that it still amazes him how being a good dad on NY Undercover transformed lives. He still runs into people thanking him for J.C. Williams and the father that he was. “For Bad Dad Rehab, you don’t just want to watch it but you want to experience it,” Malik said.
ROBERT RI’CHARD: “Tristan is the deadbeat dad,” Robert explained. “He’s a hopeless romantic with a bad pull-out method. He’s a present father but not an ATM. He has the belief that he doesn’t need help. Tristan has four baby mamas and he’s a lover.” Robert said he believes Bad Dad Rehab will be a classic and thinks it will be everyone’s favorite Father’s Day movie.
RICK GONALEZ: “It was interesting exploring the emotional side of Pierre,” Rick said of the character he plays. He revealed that a lot of emotions came forth on the last couple of days filming and made him dig deep because of his own personal role of being new father of a 3-year-old daughter. “This film is a celebration of a great cast and crew. People will sit around with their family and will get emotional,” Rick believes.
WESLEY JONATHAN: “Shawn is an unintentional bad dad,” Wesley said of his character. “From becoming a new dad this film brought about emotions in my real life. It’s important to convey to any ex-wife or baby mama that not allowing the father to see his children shouldn’t be allowed.” And when to comes to critiquing his work as an actor, Jonathan said he is proud of his work in Bad Dad Rehab.
ROB RILEY: Rob said he was grateful to be a part of Bad Dad Rehab. He said he has a personal connection to the film because he was raised by just his mother. “This film is a chance to make a change socially,” he said. “It takes an incredible amount of heart to tell a story such as this.”
KERONDA “KIKI” MCKNIGHT: “Inspiration for the film came from being a single mom of a 19-year-old daughter,” said KiKi McKnight, who admitted to having her ups and downs with the father. “I wanted to show both sides of the story – not to bash fathers. This is a love letter to my brothers. This is a great film because while a woman wrote it, this great cast created it. They made the words on paper tangible. We needed a film that celebrates dads. You will definitely be blessed watching this.”
CARL SEATON: “This was a journey to shape this project. We are all affected one way or another to this film,” Carl said. “All of the actors brought their A games, everyone was on one accord and were able to tap into the authenticity of the moment and protect the actors and this story. This is a special film that will spark conversation. This film will inspire to be your best self.”
ROGER BOBB: “People cried at the screenings – overwhelmed with the realness in the situations in the character’s lives,” Roger said. “You know it’s something special when it sparks emotions from viewers. Not only is this film good, but its socially relevant.”
ON BAD DAD REHAB POSSIBLY PERPETUATING STEREOTYPES: “Not worried at all about stereotypes,” Roger Bobb said. “All of these characters are based on real people. KiKi put out a Facebook post for stories about deadbeat dads and was shocked by the amount of responses. Tristan’s character comes from her cousin. He is the realest, has a shoe collection that he has spent a lot of money on instead of giving it to his baby mamas. There is a reason for his madness. He had to work as a kid, so he didn’t have the normal childhood. The character of Tristan all boils down to a sense of low self-worth. He compensates for his issues with the gold and the shoes that he wears.
Check Back for Photos from BAD DAD REHAB VIP Red Carpet and Premiere in Atlanta.