In 1965 the world watched as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lead marches on a relentless campaign for voting rights in Selma, Ala. In 2015, the movie “Selma” has placed the pivotal moment in the fight for voting rights back on the national radar for all of America and the world to see.
Ava DuVernay, Oprah Winfrey, Carmen Ejogo, Common and David Oyelowo sat down with “NewsOne Now” to share the struggles and triumphs of bringing the movie “Selma” to life in a series of behind the scenes interviews.
“Everyone you see in this film really lived, really struggled, really did these things,” said DuVernay, the director. She continued, “They’re so fascinating, they’re so rich that there was no reason to make them up. Once I leaned into that fact that I was literally just a teller of their tale, it took the pressure off of me having to do anything other than be responsible for telling the beautiful story that had already happened, that had already been told.”
Actor and rapper Common, who both acted in the film and co-wrote the Oscar-nominated song from it, “Glory,” shared his views about the unsung heroes of the movement. He said, “You get to see that Martin Luther King was a part of a team. He was a representation of the people. So it’s not just one man did this by himself. This one man was chosen as the voice, as the face — he had the heart and the spirit to do it, but [there were] so many people behind it…that we don’t even know some of their names.”
Oprah Winfrey, one of the producers of the film, also plays the role of Annie Lee Cooper. She told NewsOne Now, “This is a concentrated amount of energy and time focused on that three-month period when Dr. King and all of his band of brothers and sisters were trying to get the right to vote in Selma. [The short time-span] makes the story far more effective and powerful than if we tried to tell a big broad biopic of Dr. King’s life.”
Carmen Ejogo has now played the role of Coretta Scott King twice. The first time was in the HBO film “Boycott,” which deals with the bus boycott of 1955 ten years prior to where “Selma” picks up the story of the civil rights movement. Ejogo said, “I’m dealing with a very different Coretta at this point. The marriage is in a very different state and this is something that we really explore in “Selma.”
She added, “They’re really deep in the trenches at this point. I think the threat of violence and death has been something that has potential on their horizons, I think is very much more palpable.”
Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King, Jr., highlighted the fact that “we do not have female champions of the movement” represented in the same fashion as their male counterparts. “We don’t have these incredible women who did incredible things — who sacrificed just as much if not more … being celebrated as part of the movement.”
“So for me, a Black woman to be at the helm of telling the story feels absolutely right,” said Oyelowo.
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