On Sept. 18, yeahstub.com was on the scene for the United States premiere of “Beyond The Lights,” which kicked off the Urban World Film Festival at SVA. BET and HBO are presenting sponsors for the festival. Writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood who is best known for the iconic “Love & Basketball” and “The Secret Life Of Bees” has created another classic. We were first introduced to Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the film “Belle,” which you should go see if you haven’t. This British actress is one to watch and we think “Beyond The Lights” may be her break out role. She gives a stunning Oscar-worthy performance as a pop star named Noni on the verge of losing everything when she attempts to commit suicide from the pressures of the entertainment industry and a pushy Momager (played by Minnie Driver).
By chance Kaz (Nate Parker), a police officer who was only on her security detail for the evening, saved her and they have an instant connection. They begin to fall for one another and the film shows their relationship progressing after that life changing incident. Should a cop with political ambitions date a provocative pop star? His father (Danny Glover) seems to think not and ever since Noni met Kaz, she just hasn’t been on her game, according to her mom. So will true love prevail? You have to see the film to find out. We absolutely loved the film and how authentic it feels. It shows the underbelly of the music industry in an interesting way. “Beyond The Lights” also features original music by The-Dream. Rapper Machine Gun Kelly makes an impressive acting debut as Kid Culprit, Noni’s label mate and boyfriend. Laurieann Gibson, former creative director for Lady Gaga, served as choreographer for the film.
From the film producers Stephanie Allain, Amar’e Stoudemire and Reggie Rock Bythewood, Gina Prince-Bythewood, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker and editor Terilyn A. Shropshire all walked the red carpet at the New York screening. Gugu looked lovely in a Jenny Packham number and rocking earrings and a ring by Jennifer Fisher. Her hair was done by Ted Gibson. Urban World’s Gabrielle Glore and founder Stacy Spikes were in attendance. Other guests included LaLa Anthony and her “Power” co-star Rotimi, Brie Bythewood, Brittany Perry-Russell, Issa Rae, Hisham Tawfiq, Terence Crawford, Saycon Sengbloh, Gbenga Akinnagbe, Michaela Rivera, Taimak Guarriello, Lisa Arrindell Anderson and director Kiara C. Jones. Also in attendance was Alicia Keys’ mother Terria Joseph.
Director Malcolm D. Lee moderated a fascinating Q&A after the screening. The cast has been promoting the film since the BET Awards, when Gugu and Nate debuted a clip from the film. BET is one of the backers of the “Beyond The Lights,” which is being distributed by Relativity Media. The stars also premiered the film at the Toronto International Film Festival this month. “Beyond The Lights” hits theaters on November 14.