Emayatzy Corinealdi talks Middle of Nowhere
Emayatzy Corinealdi talks Middle of Nowhere
by Wilson Morales
October 9, 2012
After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival and making its run around the festival circuit, including showings at Toronto and Urbanworld, director Ava DuVernay‘s award winning film, ‘Middle of Nowhere,’ finally hits theaters this week (Oct.12) at select theaters.
The film stars newcomer Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick, Lorraine Toussaint, Edwina Findley, and Sharon Lawrence.
What happens when love takes you places you never thought you would go? When her husband, Derek (Omari Hardwick), is sentenced to eight years in a California prison, Ruby (Emayatzy Corinealdi) drops out of medical school to maintain her marriage and focus on ensuring Derek’s survival in his violent new environment. Driven by love, loyalty, and hope, Ruby learns to sustain the shame, separation, guilt, and grief that a prison wife must bear. Her new life challenges her to the very core of her identity, and her turbulent path propels her in new, often frightening directions of self-discovery.
For Corinealdi, who makes her film debut and has the lead role of Ruby, the role is a breakout hit for the Kentucky native. In 2010, she was a recipient of the 14th Annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) Star Project award, an international acting competition for emerging multicultural artists.
In speaking with Blackfilm.com, Corinealdi talks about playing Ruby, having a lead role, and working with director Ava DuVernay.
How would you describe Ruby?
Emayatzy Corinealdi: Ruby is a woman who is on a journey of self discovery. She’s trying to figure out who she is now. She’s had a major shift in life in what she’s known to be true and now she’s trying to figure out what that means now that everything has been shaken up. She’s alone. She’s separate from her mother, separate from her husband, and even from her career choices. All of that. She’s a strong, patient, long suffering, and passionate woman. And those same great qualities can also be her downfall.
How did you get the role?
EC: When I first got the call and went out for the audition, it was a story that I hadn’t seen and it was the actual role of Ruby. When I first went in, I auditioned for the role of the sister. When the script, I thought that the Ruby character was great role but I assumed that it was already cast. I put it out of my mind and that was it. After I auditioned for the character of Rosy, Ava said I should come back and read for the character of Ruby. This is that once in a lifetime beginning that you get, and once I realized that I was going to run with it, there was a an excitement and nerve-wracking emotion that came along. It’s a huge role and huge responsibility and along the way. Ava has taken me under her wing. She made me feel very safe.
Having a lead role is quite a challenge. How did you prepare for it?
EC: Although Ruby is in every scene and in reading the script, you can see that it was just her, I didn’t think of it that way; in terms of everything being on her shoulders. It wasn’t until after the fact and Ava had said it in a way that made me realize it.
What have you learned from working with Ava?
EC: I have learned so much from working with her. It has left me an impression that I hope to get with each director I work with after this. She’s a very giving person. She has her vision and she sees how she wants it executed, but at the same time, she’s open to other ideas and incorporating that and that makes you feel like you are a part of the process. You are not just here, facilitating the character that she’s written. She’s also interested in your interpretation and that has been wonderful for an actor. It left me feeling that this is what I should look for in a director. She’s a one woman powerhouse, from writing, directing, to creating AFFRM. She’s shown me that roles for a black woman may be tough to get, but not impossible.
EC: That’s one of the reasons I didn’t feel any pressure on carrying the film. I knew that I had been surrounded by people who had been doing this for a long period and are accomplished in their own right. I got a chance to pick up something from everyone else.
This is a story will resonate with some people. Did you do any research on the subject?
EC: Absolutely. I know two people who have had a long term boyfriend who is in prison. I spoke to both of those women and did lots of research on my own just from a statistical point of view. I wanted to figure out how these women feel and how they are used. I took all of this information and place it in the creation of Ruby.
EC: Many roles like this is what I desire. It’s set the standard for the type of work I would like to do. Even better, this is the type of work that I always wanted to do so this was it.