By// Starrene Rhett Rocque
JETmag.com caught up with veteran actress Lynn Whitfield to chat about her latest movie, King’s Faith. It’s a faith-based film that centers around an African-American family that takes in a troubled Caucasian youth. Here, Whitfield explains what attracted her to the project, and why it’s the type of film that can empower everyone.
What’s the premise behind King’s Faith and what attracted you to the project?
I though it was an inspiring story. This time it’s sort of a role reversal. A young Caucasian guy, who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, who comes out of a youth detention or whatever that would be for that age group, and is a foster kid aging out of the system. Then an African American family, who has just lost their son, being in grieving, takes in this young man. I thought it was interesting. The woman I play, Vanessa Stubbs, who plays the wife of the family who takes in the young man, is grieving the loss of her son still. Grieving is like a thing unto itself. She was questioning God’s choices for her life and not really the willing person who wanted to take in this White kid. I just thought that her emotional life was really interesting. Being a mother, I thought it was a real interesting look at some of the choices and consequences of choices that youth have right now. For me it was an interesting character to play.
You do a lot of philanthropic work in real life. Were the issues concerning foster care always on your radar, or did this movie allow you the opportunity to learn more about the system?
It actually did afford me the opportunity to learn a little bit more about the foster care system because you hear so much about the bad parts about the foster system and how kids are mistreated. It allowed me to take a look at the wonderful part of the foster care system and how you can take a kid at any age, before adulthood, and deposit things in their lives to help them to be more successful human beings. I hadn’t really thought about that. So it allowed me to get a great appreciation for people who have the generosity and courage of spirit and heart to actually do this kind of work. There are so many African children as well who are undesirable and are getting older, and nobody wants an older child. To put myself in their shoes and see how frightening and sad that could be for some children—it gives me the opportunity to encourage people to take a look at older kids sometimes and see what you can do; if you can find it in your heart to take them in and give them a shot at life.
Your character’s son lost his life in a violent death, which is something that is unfortunately happening a lot more lately. How do you think your character will resonate with all mothers?
I think she resonates greatly will all mothers, in light of what is going on right now in our country with the NRA, gun violence and this bill. Who knows why it’s so difficult and why there’ so much push back to actually say that everybody doesn’t need a gun? We need to know if people have emotional deficiencies or whether or not they are mentally disturbed. I think it will resonate greatly with mother’s who have lost their children. The one thing a mother can never imagine is losing a child. You always think that you will leave your children here and that you will be the first to die. It was just so sad once I put myself in her shoes and in her circumstance to feel the pain of that kind of loss.
What do you hope people will take away from this film?
It is good to be your brother’s keeper. It’s good to come outside of our own safety zone sometimes and make an effort to do something else to be more altruistic to really try and do something for somebody else. I think the country is in need of messages like this at this point. What’s interesting is that the woman that I play wasn’t so willing to do that. The husband really wanted to do it. In so doing, allowing herself to be part of it, she brought herself out of a really dark place in her own life. So that’s what I hope they walk away with, and taking a chance on older children in the foster care system. It’s something that people don’t know or are often frightened to do. It can make a huge difference in one person’s life and therefore everybody’s world. It’s really worthwhile and it’s great for families to see together. It speaks about both adult and young adult choices and consequences. It is a very entertaining look at people’s lives and relationships with each other.
King’s Faith is in theaters now on limited release. Visit www.kingsfaith.com for more information. If enough people request it to be in a city then it will go into the movie theaters there.