Recently, I attended the D.C screening of Pariah, sponsored by the notable Howard University. 

Buzz have been growing for months now about Dee Rees’s Pariah, so I was curious to  see finally what the buzz was about! Thanks to the folks at Shadow and Act (which supported ‘Pariah’ consistently), I read page after page on their site on Pariah. Article after article until a post about a free screening in D.C among my colleagues and old friends was posted 48 hours before showtime.

After the screening, I had the chance to interview the star of the film, Adepero Oduye.  Set in New York City, Alike (played by the charmed Adepero Oduye) comes to grip with her sexuality. Chaos and reality set in.  A powerful film on overcoming challenges and letting your inner self  ‘free’.

First off, Wonderful performance in Pariah! I thought the film was outstanding. I was moved by the actors in this film! The buzz was what it was all hyped up to be.

Adepero Oduye: Thank you very much. Thank you.

What attracted you to this project? What made you go “Yes, I need to be a part of this film!”

Adepero Oduye: When I first read the script, I immediately thought,  I know what this is about! I know that the character did not feel free  and I just related to that. I know what that feeling is. That you can’t be who are because you are constraint; it’s excruciating and all the stuff  covering that, and you just want to break free from it, that is what I was feeling immediately from the script.

This film is very powerful. Layer after layer! It struck a chord with me throughout the film, but especially during the scene where your character finally admit what we (the audience) knew to your parents, which then led to the emotional aftermath. How did you prepare for that specific scene?

Adepero Oduye:  It’s something I just threw myself into it. We did not rehearse a lot, we had a fight coordinator but we did not talk much about it-which is good because you kind of want to see what happens and it feels real, I think and I hope that it looks real convincing. All the actors pretty much gave their all for that (scene)

What do you hope people take away from this film? Especially to those people who are dealing with an obstacle or challenge in their way. Also,  People who are afraid to be themselves, what do you hope they will take away from this film? What message you hope ‘Pariah’ will convey to the masses?

Adepero Oduye: That everyone has the right to be who they dictate themselves to be!  It is ok to love and accept who you are. That you are your main priority, everything else comes second. Even if you are young, it does get better. No matter how hard or crazy, just in hang in there. It does get better! As for the message? The most important thing is to love and accept yourself. Also, for people to love and to accept others because everyone have the right to be who they are.

– Christine Shepherd

Credit: Justin Knight and Focus Features for the images.

Pariah, now playing in select theaters. To find out where it’s playing at a theater near you, click here (10 more cities added today!).