Press Conference: The Cast Of ‘Safety’ Reunite To Talk About The Heartwarming Sports Drama
If you haven’t watched Disney’s newest film Safety, stop what you’re doing and go watch it right now!
Safety is a drama inspired by the empowering story of former Clemson University football safety Ray McElrathbey (Jay Reeves), a young man facing a series of challenging circumstances, whose dedication and persistence help him to triumph over repeated adversities. Aided by his teammates and the Clemson community, he succeeds on the field while simultaneously raising and caring for his 11-year-old brother Fahmarr (Thaddeus J. Mixson).
Earlier this week, I had the chance to attend a virtual press conference with the cast and crew of the film! Check out the full conference below as well as some of the highlights in written form:
· Jay Reeves (“Ray (Ray-Ray)”)
· Thaddeus J. Mixson II (“Fahmarr (Fay)”)
· Corinne Foxx (“Kaycee”)
· Hunter Sansone (“Daniel Morelli”)
· Reginald Hudlin (Director)
· Mark Ciardi (Producer)
· Ray-Ray McElrathbey (Real life person the story is based on)
Moderator: Don Munson / Director of Broadcasting, Clemson Athletics
The Conference started off with Jay expressing his initial reaction to getting the script for the first time:
Jay Reeves: Ever since day one I was overwhelmed with excitement. It was crazy. I remember reading the description of the role in the story and dropping everything in that moment. As soon as I got the audition material I was like, hey guys, I got to go home. And all my friends were wondering why I skated out of there. But this story was just so impactful to me that reading the description made me leave everything and go pursue it. So, I’m so grateful to be a part of this project. It’s amazing.
Ray-Ray himself then went on to speak about how surreal it is to have a movie based off of him:
Ray-Ray: It’s a surreal experience. It’s a wonderful experience more so than anything. It was something I’ve been praying for one-one would say. I’m blessed and excited to have the opportunity to be here with all the people that are assembled to make this cast and crew to be part of my life forever. And this-it’s surreal is the word I will use for how I feel about this situation and having a movie about my life. But I’m 34. So, hopefully I can get something else going on too.
Director Reginald Hudlin wanted to go beyond the traditional sports tropes and share McElrathbey’s real story:
Hudlin: There’s so many great sports movies going back to Brian’s Song, Remember the Titans and, Friday Night Lights. So if you do it well, you can really resonate with audiences. The trick is what new do you have to say? It’s not, you know, it’s not about let’s just do what they did. Fortunately, we had a true story. It was really invaluable to have Ray, you know, involved in the entire process and having Ray on set, uh, for my sake, for the sake of the cast.”
We could all talk to him and be a touchstone and say, what new do we have to say? What new do we have to contribute to this rich genre of motion pictures? That’s what makes me happy, you know? everyone who sees Safety goes, I like this movie. It’s part of a tradition. But I think Ray’s story is unique and has something special to say and that resonates with everyone who sees it. No matter who they are, no matter where they’re from.
Thaddeus J. Mixson II actually didn’t realize it was based on a true story until the first day of shooting! Here’s what he had to say about that:
Thaddeus: I really wanted to show how Fahmarr felt on screen and just make sure it comes across the right way. I also, I didn’t know it was based on a true story till I got on set the first day. So, I started searching and looked at, an Oprah Winfrey interview that they had did and I just wanted to try to embody that as much as I could. And I actually almost cried from just watching it. ‘Cause, you could just see the pain. And I know he went through a lot. So yeah, I just wanted to show that on screen.