By Kimberly Alsup
As a Sonya’s Spotlight Blogger, I was excited to dial into a Tele-Press conference with Drew Sidora, Joyful Drake, Redaric Williams, Kisa Wills, Writer: Rhonda Baraka, and Executive-in-Charge of Scripted Programming from TV One’s CHASING WATERFALLS, which premiered Mother’s Day, May, 8 at 7 pm. During the call, I was given the synopsis, and explored the subjects pertaining to the storyline in CHASING WATERFALLS.
Olivia: Drew Sidora (The Game, Sister Code)
Salma Barrie: Jasmine Guy (A Different World)
Cabot: Redaric Williams (The Young and The Restless)
Doreen: Joyful Drake (Let’s Stay Together, Jane the Virgin)
Quincy: Tim Reid (Sister Sister, Treme)
Coco: Kisa Williams (Precious)
Hiram: Daniel May (Being Mary Jane)
Kelly Price: Kelly Price (R&B Divas)
ABOUT CHASING WATERFALLS:
Chasing Waterfalls navigates the treachous cut throat waters of the fashion industry, while teaching viewers the importance of obedience, faithfulness, hope, and God’s grace. The story follows the journey of Olivia, an inspiring fashion designer who is striving for success while working for Salma Barrie, the owner of a once fruitful clothing brand. As she jumps at the opportunity to become the new fashion “It Girl”, Olivia must balance her family responsibilities, especially the caring for her aging father Quincy and troublesome sister Coco.
As a result of Salma Barrie’s lead designer Hiram defecting to launch a high-profile competing line, Olivia is given the opportunity to help her suffering firm by introducing her own designs. Her life quickly spirals out-of-control as she takes advantage of and hurts the people who helped her along the way including her closet ally, Salma’s son Cabot. Matters become dire when Salma’s daughter hatches her own plan for the company. Salma, who though pleased with the success of the brand, allows her jealousy towards Olivia to nearly bring the fashion house toppling down.
Following last year’s success of TO HELL AND BACK -an original film based on the Book of Job and FOR THE LOVE OF RUTH, an updated interpretation of the Book of Ruth, TV One tells another powerful biblical story with the Mother’s Day premiere of CHASING WATERFALLS.
Drew Sidora on CHASING WATERFALLS: “Olivia is very passionate and has a great foundation in God. Her struggle causes her to make decisions that change her life forever. Olivia shows us that the choices we make in life determines our future. You will enjoy CHASING WATERFALLS and you will be inspired.”
Redaric Williams on CHASING WATERFALLS: “Inception and the writing of it gives more validity to the Bible story: It makes it more relatable being modern and relevant. Drew has a dedication to the work all while being very carefree and supportive. Cabot has lived the life of luxury with being Salma’s son. He wants to assist and guide Olivia on her journey. The cast felt like family, the chemistry was amazing.”
Kisa Williiams on CHASING WATERFALLS: “This film can be related back to anyone’s regular life. There are messages and morals throughout the film. It’s great how this biblical story is transformed into high fashion.”
Joyful Drake on CHASING WATERFALLS: “Doreen is one of the villains of the film. I try not to judge my characters; I like to understand why they are the way they are. Doreen is complicated and her mind is always going. She always wants more – including her mothers love and validation. These feelings bring Doreen to a very dark place. Doreen shows how there are second chances and you can heal relationships.”
Rhonda Baraka on CHASING WATERFALLS: “This film is the brainchild of D’Angela Proctor (Head of Original Programming for TV One). D’Angela wanted to do a story based on David but she wanted it to be a woman. This was inspired by Mahogany and instead of using the music industry as is done many times, I thought it would be great to use the cut-throat fashion district. Showing the rise and fall from grace was important. Salma is a combination of many things, Tracy from Mahogany, Dynasty and Dallas, and DEVIL WEARS PRADA.”
Q & A:
How important is it for you to be supported by your inner circle?
Kisa Williams: “It is very important to me to have the support from my inner circle. I am from Atlanta and I moved to NY and LA, because that is what you do when you want to pursue this business. I had some successes out there but my family kept trying to get me to come back to Atlanta. Now, I’m back. My family has supported me all the way.”
How do you remain grounded and have you ever been brought down in the industry?
Drew Sidora: “My career has been a long journey. This was my first leading role, but I still have to audition and book another role. I try not to get too comfortable, and I take nothing for granted. I found myself in a situation with a guy that I thought was good and turns out that he wasn’t. I now have my son, who was five months while I was filming this movie. His father is not in his life, so I was crushed. But I found my way back by being selfless in this world, helping and volunteering where I could, and then I was
blessed with the TLC movie. So I try to not to take anything for granted. My family was there to support. It is important for me to rely on my support system.”
How important is it to portray strong African American women characters?
Rhonda Baraka: “It is very important for me to not only have strong African-American women portrayed, but also strong African African men as well. That doesn’t get shown that often. In Chasing Waterfalls we have Quincy who is a strong, loving, God-fearing man, and we also have Cabot, who is loving and loves Olivia unconditionally. This film was about overcoming the obstacles, hope, and forgiveness. For without forgiveness there is no personal growth.”
How did you adjust to work after giving birth a short time ago, and how did you prepare to play the two sides of Olivia?
Drew Sidora: “The support of my family was key. I brought them along and my son came to set as well. It was a challenge with Olivia, she is very sweet but also has a crazy side. Money and fame only magnifies what is already there. Olivia wanted the success so bad that she risked it all to keep it. She began by holding onto God and her family and she eventually turned her back on both of them. But she returned to her foundation and came back.”
What was the most challenging thing for this production?
Karen Peterkin: “They went into production very quickly. The speed at the rate of this production was the most challenging.”
Who has been influential in your career?
Joyful Drake: “My family. I have four sisters; my mom is the strongest woman I know. Artistic influences would include Phylicia Rashad, Viola Davis, and Jasmine Guy – who is an icon in her own right. So, to answer the question, I would have to say that strong black women are my influences.”
Was it a challenge to play Coco?
Kisa Williams: “I had to focus on the intention and the humanness of the character. What was her drive? It was tricky – and I had to do my homework on her situation.”
How do you prepare before writing?
Rhonda Baraka: “I have to start with the characters. With this I started with Olivia and Salma. Deciding how their rivalry would begin and end – figuring out how everything connects. It’s also great to be able to work a development team and bounce things off of them.”
Kisa Williams: “This film has an over-arching message of being humble, and working hard. Remember your foundation.”
Drew Sidora: “Don’t take life for granted. I began a foundation called Dream Makers which allows me to be an inspiration to my hometown of Chicago. Everyone has the ability to dream and be successful. This film shows there is an opportunity to celebrate dreams and there are second chances.”
Rhonda Baraka: “Thank you, TV One, for giving black people the opportunity to tell their stories. I’m thankful for the support of TV One and for the amazing cast.”