Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Nefertite Nguvu

The “In the Morning” Interview
with Kam Williams

In Harmony with Nefertite!

Nefertite Nguvu is a graduate of New York City's School for the Visual Arts, where she majored in film. Here, she talks about her feature-length writing and directorial debut, In the Morning, an ensemble drama co-starring Emayatzy Corinealdi, Jacky Ido and De'Adre Aziza.

The film will be showing in Philadelphia on Friday, May 26th at 7 pm at the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, located at 3401 Filbert Street. Following the screening, there will be a conversation between Nefertite and multimedia visual artist Sosena Solomon and questions from the audience.

To find out about future screenings of In the Morning elsewhere around the country, visit: http://inthemorning-thefilm.com/

Kam Williams: Hi Nefertite, thanks for the interview.
Nefertite Nguvu: It’s my pleasure, Kam. Thank you for taking the time.

KW: What inspired you to write In the Morning?
NN: I was very inspired by the women in my life. I wanted to make a film that reflected and honored the women I know. There are so many overlooked narratives when it comes to black women. In The Morning is my love letter to women: beautiful, smart, elegant, vulnerable, sensitive, complex black women who don’t often get to see themselves in movies.

KW: How would describe the film in 25 words or less?
NN: Our film is about something we’ve all wrestled with, this terrible and beautiful animal: love. It explores romantic love, but it’s ultimately about the power of self-love.

KW: How did you go about assembling your cast?
NN: Our cast came together pretty organically. We were working with a small budget, so there was no casting director. I reached out to members of my filmmaking community for recommendations: Emayatzy Corinealdi, JoNell Kennedy and Jacky Ido came to me that way. I also chose to work with some artists I’ve known for awhile whose work I loved, like De’Adre Aziza, Kim Hill, Numa Perrier and C.J. Lindsey. I feel very lucky to have this lovely and talented ensemble cast.

KW: I interviewed Emayatzy for Roots. She was nominated for an NAACP Image Award this year for her performance in the miniseries. Why did you pick her to play Cadence in your film?
NN: It’s great to see her continue to shine. I chose her for many reasons. Emayatzy brings a lot to our film. She is quite beautiful and brings a delicate balance of hubris and humanity that draws us into the complex emotional world of her character, Cadence. She’s wonderful!

KW: What message do you want people to take away from the film?
NN: In The Morning explores the lives of beautiful but imperfect people navigating their way through life and love challenges, without placing judgments on anyone. We are all human and therefore all flawed. Our message is really about deepening connection, intimacy and empathy. More than anything else, I want our audience to see true and deep reflections of themselves.

KW: You wrote, directed and produced In the Morning. What was it like having to juggle all those responsibilities?
NN: As a first time feature filmmaker, it was daunting. But I was incredibly determined to get this film made. So, I threw myself wholeheartedly into each of these responsibilities and worked very hard. It was not easy to manage it all. Luckily, I had a lot of support. I’m so proud of the film we made.

KW: How long did it take to make the movie?
NN: Though it’s been a five-year journey from script to screen and now to wider distribution, we shot the film in Brooklyn in just eight days.

KW: What's your next project?
NN: I’ve got two short narrative projects I’m working on now that I’m very excited about. One I’m in post-production on entitled, “Myself When I am Real,” and another I’ll be shooting this summer in collaboration with AT&T as part of their "Hello Lab" program.

KW: What's your dream project?
NN: I’d love to adapt one of James Baldwin’s novels. That would be a dream project, for sure.

KW: AALBC.com founder Troy Johnson asks: What was the last book you read?
NN: The last book I read was filmmaker Kathleen Collins’ recently published book of short stories entitled, “Whatever Happened To Interracial Love.”  

KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What was the last song you listened to?
NN: Frank Ocean’s cover of "At Your Best." I’m kind of obsessed with it!

KW: Ling-Ju Yen asks: What is your earliest childhood memory?
NN: My earliest childhood memory is probably walking while holding the hands of my father and my sister.

KW: Was there a meaningful spiritual component to your childhood?
NN: Yes, my mother was a very spiritual person and she made that a very grounding component of my upbringing.

KW: Who loved you unconditionally during your formative years?
NN: I am very fortunate in that I felt loved unconditionally by my entire family.

KW: What is your favorite dish to cook?
NN: I don’t often have a lot of time to cook, usually a quick tofu and veggie stir-fry is my go to!

KW: Sherry Gillam would like to know what is the most important life lesson you've learned so far?
NN: To stay the course.

KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
NN: I see a lot of the faces of the women in my family and my father’s eyes.

KW: If you could have one wish instantly granted, what would that be for?
NN: I’d wish for a just world.

KW: Is there any question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
NN: Not that I can think of… other than, work-wise, I’d love for someone to ask if they could finance my dream project!

KW: Harriet Pakula-Teweles asks: With so many classic films being redone, is there a remake you'd like to direct?
NN: There are so many these days, which I think has been a great way to introduce some films to a new audience. It’s daunting to think about taking on a classic, but one I’ve always loved that I think would be interesting to redo is Elevator To The Gallows.

KW: Judyth Piazza asks: What key quality do you believe all successful people share?
NN: The key quality that stands out to me for many is grit.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?
NN: Ha! The usual necessities, and a ton of receipts from a shoot this past weekend.

KW: Thanks again for the time, Nefertite, and best of luck with all your endeavors.
NN: Thanks so much, Kam.

To see a trailer for In the Morning, visit: https://vimeo.com/213676676

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