The parables that often come from an inordinate young talent getting mixed up in street life have often been told in some form or another.
The death of Ben Wilson to this day serves as a mantel for all that can go wrong by circumstance. A young talent in his own right, frequently compared to Michael Jordan in Chicago’s south side, Wilson was gunned down prior to his senior year over a minor dispute.
Sons 2 the Grave, a fictional film directed by Mykelti Williams and written by Lynne Stoltz set to release this year, may not be about Wilson himself, but it shares similarities to his story in its themes.
“I think in society we have good, we have bad, we have opportunity, we have procrastination, greed, kindness and that’s what this movie is about,” says actor Darrin Henson, best known for his recurring role in the television series “Soul Food”.
“When you have young men of colour who aspire to greatness sometimes the pitfall is lack of economics and we’re put into positions that really make us think.”
The context of Henson’s words speaks well to the central plot of Sons 2 the Grave, which is about an NBA hopeful, Marcus Jennings, whose potential is thwarted under the influences of his surroundings.
For Henson, who once played the role of ex-convict Lem Van Adams on “Soul Food”, he plays a role on the other side of the law in Sons: homicide detective David Reynolds,
Reynolds is a cop who is motivated by a desire to influence a positive change within his community’s streets.
“I’m not a police officer, so [I] had to go into the minds of other police officers. What do they do? What do they think? What do they feel on a daily basis,” says Henson, whose talents run the gamut from choreography and acting to motivational speaking and writing. “It’s a different person than I am, but I really had to do a lot of introspective work, I had to talk to a lot of police, and kind of channeling them for this role.”
Henson isn’t the only cast member who grew professionally from working on this film. Messiah Harris, son of rapper T.I., says with this being his first theatrical acting role Sons 2 the Grave was as much of a learning experience on the script as it was off.
“This is a very exciting new career pathway, but it’s also kind of nerve wracking because I’m very curious as to how people think I did,” says Harris. “I know there’s going to be a lot of things I wished I could have done better. It’s mixed emotions you know; I’m excited and slightly nervous too.”
His sentiment can be heard in his voice – soft spoken with a quiet air about him – traits he admits he shares with his character, Jermaine, who serves as the little brother to one of the antagonists of the story.
“I’m sure nobody sees me as Messiah, they all see me as T.I’s son. That’s the only thing I’m not too fond of. I want people to remember me as a down to earth young man.” – Messiah Harris
For Harris, Sons 2 the Grave isn’t simply about an acting opportunity, but the start of personal branding that he hopes can help him move out of his father’s shadow.
“I’m sure nobody sees me as Messiah, they all see me as T.I’s son,” says Harris. “That’s the only thing I’m not too fond of. I want people to remember me as a down to earth young man. I want to be able to provide for my family and friends and just inspire others who have the same problems as me, trying to find a name for [my]self.”
“He’s laid back and such a cool guy,” says Trevor Jackson about his fellow cast mate, Harris. “I would talk to him and he would say, ‘dude I really wanna do this.’ That’s all you need with anything in life. That’s the first step to anything, it’s that ‘I really want it,’ and it’s starting to happen for him so I’m proud of him.”
“It’s about him getting caught up in the not so great part of society … I feel like I have family members that may have been victims to that as well and it just hit me when I read the script.” – Trevor Jackson
Jackson, a dancer and recording artist, doesn’t have to worry about developing an image himself. He’s displayed his acting chops on the Disney Channel, on Syfy’s original series “Eureka” and is currently prepping his debut album.
He plays Marcus Jennings in the film, one of the main characters who falls victim to his surroundings. The role was appealing to him because of its familiarity, Jackson explains.
“It’s about him getting caught up in the not so great part of society, the projects if you will,” he says. “I feel like I have family members that may have been victims to that as well and it just hit me when I read the script. I really wanted to be part of something that could show that there’s more to it than just that. That life is bigger than that.”