Faith finds a way to shine on and off screen in The Best Man Holiday.
By: Naja Hill
When The Best Man first debuted in 1999, it was a pioneering film that portrayed a group of successful, upper-middle class African Americans. During this time there were few films that showcased well-to-do, thriving, educated black characters.
The highly celebrated film told a story of black people whose experiences were not defined by their race; instead their stories were defined by a universal familiarity that we all could identify with. Many grew to love these refreshing characters and the film became known as a classic.
Director Malcolm D. Lee waited fifteen long years before he decided to do the sequel, The Best Man Holiday, debuting on November 15th. He brought back all of the original cast, and then spiced things up, introducing new characters like Eddie Cibrian (Good Deeds).
“The first movie was inspired by The Big Chill, in that it was a reunion of college friends,” says Malcolm. “For the sequel, instead of a group of people coming together for a wedding, they are coming together for a funeral.”
The film revisits these rich characters played by Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Harold Perrineau, Monica Calhoun and Melissa De Sousa. Audiences see how they have evolved through marriages, divorces, children, and career ups and downs. Centered around the themes of love, laughter and loss, the group plays out life’s tribulations relying on friendship and faith. Faith, an ongoing theme in the storyline, played a personal part in this incredible reunion for Diggs and Lathan.
Lathan comments that she was moved by the fact that she and the eight other African American actors, were able to reunite fifteen years later, all still going strong in their acting careers. “The fact we were able to get each of us together,” says Lathan, “is a testament to some kind of faith in all of us in pursuing this career and living life. It was a blessing to have all of these characters lives represented again; for these stories to be told once more for us as a community, especially when we don’t usually see African American characters depicted so well and in such a variety of ways on film.”
Diggs commented that he considers himself to be a spiritual man. He uses his faith to keep himself emotionally and mentally healthy in a difficult business. “There is so much pressure and negative energy around this holy art form that it can distract you from what you are actually supposed to do. There will always be people saying you shouldn’t do this or that, but I choose to just put that behind me and be in the moment.“
Lee noted that though he revamped a film engulfed in the ideas of spirituality, he purposely chose not to do so in an obvious way. “I incorporated faith without pushing for any kind of message, or doing so in an in your face type of way. ”
We asked the beautiful, Melissa De Sousa of The Best Man Holiday, how she keeps her mind, body and soul thriving:
Mind: Silent meditation in the mornings. I also listen to Joel Osteen and T.D. Jakes for inspiration. I am not perfect, so whenever I feel overwhelmed, I look to meditation and the bible to block out the noise and get centered.
Body: I love salsa and dance. I used to dance for Alvin Ailey, so I have a background in movement. I do Pilates and cardio at the gym as well.
Soul: I have seen the power of prayer at work! I lost my father three years ago. It was the hardest time in my life. I found myself so close to God during that time. As I look back, I feel grateful for the experience.
*For Melissa’s full interview, pick up the December/January issue of Heart&Soul.