Monica Calhoun and Malcolm D. Lee Discuss ‘Black Love’ and “The Best Man Holiday”

Nearly fifteen years after the cast of “The Best Man” graced the big screen and captured our hearts, the beloved ensemble cast has reunited for the anticipated sequel, “The Best Man Holiday”.

Monica Calhoun returns as Mia Sullivan. We last saw her in “The Best Man”, marrying her college sweetheart Lance Sullivan despite the wedding nearly being called off after Lance found out that Mia had a fling with titular character, ‘The Best Man’, Harper Stewart.

In the eyes of many movie goers, “The Best Man” has stood the test of time. Calhoun explains that it didn’t take much to get the beloved gang back together.

“It all happened by Malcolm (the director) inviting us all to dinner. He told us he had wrote a great idea about a movie that was fairly successful and there was a possibility that he wrote a great script and about how these characters evolved in their lives. It defined the success of a relationship between Mia and Lance,” Calhoun states.

Mia and Lance’s relationship along with all of the couples in “The Best Man” has been tested throughout time. “The Best Man” has been docked by many as the true embodiment of ‘black love’ through trials and tribulations, but Calhoun disagrees.

“Love is love. With this film, we just happen to be African-American people. I think that what happens with this particular film, the definition or the different levels of love. There is the forgiveness aspect of love, the friendship aspect of love, and also the family aspect of love is what is also explored in “The Best Man Holiday”. But also, you laugh. There is also the aspect of laughing with each other instead of at each other,” Calhoun stated.

Malcolm D. Lee, writer and director of the highly anticipated-sequel, agrees with Calhoun’s sentiment of ‘black love’.

“It doesn’t surprise me that ‘black love’ is is being brought up. Unfortunately we don’t get to see ourselves love each other on the screen very often. So when we see it, it’s like oh my goodness here it is, real love. It’s a shock like, yeah. We love like everyone else. [When you see it on screen] you’re like I know that degree of love and I’ve experienced it, or I want to have it, or I want to give that kind of love. We rarely get to see that in our images of ourselves. It’s sad that you have to ask about what is black love, the idea that it exists shouldn’t even get questioned. I think it’s beautiful in a way that people recognize [The Best Man Holiday] as a ‘black love film’, because it truly is about love,” Lee said.

According to many critics of movies deemed as ‘black movies’, love is not the only thing that is missing. Many moviegoers feel that the typecasting of characters will steer them away from black dramedies. Calhoun believes that this is just a part of the creative process.

“[How black women are typecasted in movies] is a creative process and a creative choice. From a marketing standpoint what draws people into movies, sometimes there is a negative and positive effects. How you dress affects the believability of that character. If Mia was the sexy bombshell you wouldn’t see her in a cardigan. The pressures of projecting a certain image all goes into a creative process,” Calhoun expressed.

Calhoun has been an actress since the mid 80s. She explains that an agent discovered her at theater summer camp when she was a teen. But things have changed overtime, and this seasoned veteran of the industry has advice to offer anyone hoping to pursue a similar career.

“You’ve already created a foundation. When you branch out, and go forward in the industry to whichever market you choose. Understand that when you leave your experience will be different if you go to New York, or L.A., or stay in D.C. Creating or maintaining a support system with your fellow comrades is one thing that helps dictate your level of success. Building a network outside your support system, and then your support system building a network also so that you have a wider range of access to a variety of work that comes your way but always sticking close,” Calhoun stated.

Lee agrees and adds the importance of understanding exactly what you’re getting yourself into.

“I’m not an actor, but from my perspective, it is important to know your craft. Don’t come into this business trying to make money. You must do it because you love to do it. There are easier ways to make money, and it’s a tough business. You better have some thick skin but be able to access their emotions as well especially if you want to be in the film and television industry,” Lee stated.

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