EXCLUSIVE | 'All Day and a Night' actor Regina Taylor says film highlights 'times that we live in right now'
Regina Taylor, who played the role of Tommetta in the film, spoke about the system that's built against character Jahkor 'Jah' Abraham Lincoln's (Ashton Sanders) future
'All Day and a Night' chronicles the life of a young boy as he tries to escape the harsh realities of inner-city life seeking a better version of himself. With the use of flashbacks and narration, we are told a story of grappling events that lead to a young man facing life in prison with his father right next to him.
In an exclusive interview with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), Regina Taylor, who played the role of Tommetta in the film, spoke about what the movie brings to the forefront, a system that's built against Jahkor 'Jah' Abraham Lincoln's (Ashton Sanders) future, and how the audience is shown the different directions Jahkor is being tugged to.
Taylor explained that after receiving calls from her manager and agent, and being sent the script to the film, she had immediately said "yes."
"I knew who had written it -- Joe Robert Cole -- and I was very excited about the prospect. Also, I'm a huge fan of Mr Wright as well as Mr Ashton, so knowing that these two people were attached to the piece, as actors, I was very excited about reading the script I read the script and, and really loved it. I loved all the layers of it, the complexity of it, the darkness and light of it," she revealed.
'All Day and a Night' explores the themes of systematic racism in America, highlighting the saddening and growing real-life aspects of African Americans and their reality. Speaking about what the movie depicts, Taylor said, "I think this is a piece that is of the times that we live in right now." She explains how the movie is about "race, history, sociology, economics, education, and about a father's insurance and what's passed down in terms of all of this one generation to the next." She also revealed that it was very brave of Netflix to premiere the movie at this time.
While the movie dives into the gray area of nature and nurture debate and its effects on Jah, we wondered how his fate would have been if he still hung around the "wrong" people but came home to a loving family. The cycle of trauma and generational abuse is brought to the forefront as we see Jah's father James Daniel 'JD' Lincoln trying to strengthen him in ways that seemed like calculated abuse.
"What we're looking at with Jahkor are these different elements. We see that the generational curse in terms of his father ends up in jail. We also see different tugs, and different sides of his father's teaching him what he knows to survive. We see the mother trying to teach him what she knows to survive. We see the drug dealer, teaching him what he knows to survive. So you have these different tugs. And I think it was very important then to have, Tommetta, my character who is old school solid, who is also trying to tug him in, a certain direction in order to survive," explained Taylor.
"We see these different elements tugging at him. We see him being thrown into a system that is built for him to fail, just as the 13th amendment -- people are freed from slavery to enter a new type of slavery," explains Taylor emphasizing on how that prison system is rigged.
"Those who escaped, can they survive? Not only survive but thrive? That's the question. How do you do that? With this, he is thrown into the system, that is built to crush him and he finds some light at the end. At the end of this, there is still some light. His body is incarcerated, his spirit still has a chance. And he's passing that on. That spirit can be passed on into the next generation, his son," she continued.
Taylor hopes that the audience would be able to take away from the movie the fact that the "human spirit can endure and overcome the darkest of passages and journeys" as she believes that art such as cinema and music provide a "ground plan, a map of escape" to young African men and women watching.
Taylor deems Joe Robert Cole an exceptional writer and director saying she found him to be "kind, generous and thorough" and gave her great guidance and the "freedom to explore and discover together moments in the piece."
"I think he is really brilliant," said Taylor. It seems as though Taylor is a huge fan of Jeffrey Wright as well saying it has always been a dream to work with him. "In the very first moment, I had to gather myself because he is a force of nature. I had to gather myself and go, 'okay, this is a moment that I've been waiting for, for a long time," said the actress.
The actress, who says she's working on a couple of pieces for TV and theater, is "grappling with the questions of what will it look like the day after tomorrow and a year from now, how will we -- as artistes -- put together our pieces and present our pieces both on stage and screen" and is excited about her upcoming challenges.