Exclusive: Simone Missick Talks ‘Jinn’ & Luke Cage CancellationPosted by Wilson Morales
November 14, 2018
Coming out in theaters on November 15th and on VOD and Digital HD on November 16th from Orion Classics is the upcoming drama JINN.
Written and directed by Nijla Mu’min, the film stars Zoe Renee (BET’s The Quad), Simone Missick (Netflix’s The Defenders), Kelvin Harrison, Jr. (Monsters and Men, Luce), Dorian Missick (Lucky Number Slevin), Hisham Tawfiq (NBC’s The Blacklist), Ashlei Foushee, Maya Morales, Damien D. Smith (The Smile Man) and Kelly Jenrette (Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale).
JINN made its world premiere at this year’s SXSW Film Festival where it won the Special Jury Award for writing. The film also won awards at the American Black Film Festival for Best Screenplay and Best Actor (Zoe Renee), the Blackstar Film Festival for Best Feature Narrative and Audience Award and at the Roxbury Film Festival for Best Narrative Feature.
In JINN, Summer (Zoe Renee) is a 17-year-old carefree black girl, whose world is turned upside down when her mother, a popular meteorologist named Jade Jennings (Simone Missick), abruptly converts to Islam and becomes a different person, prompting Summer to reevaluate her identity.
For Missick, who is best known for playing Detective Misty Knight on the recently cancelled Netflix series, Marvel’s Luke Cage, this is her first feature film to hit the big screen. Her previous credits include reprising her Luke Cage role on The Defenders and Iron Fist and a number of shorts, in which she appeared opposite her husband, actor Dorian Missick.
Blackfilm.com spoke exclusively with Missick regarding her role in Jinn as well as the cancellation of Luke Cage and whether or not it’s the last we will see of Misty Knight.
Jinn has been playing in the festival circuit, winning a bunch of awards. What made you say yes to this?
Simone Missick: The script was really, really strong and powerful. Nijla had reached out to my husband and he was already on board to play David, the father, and he suggested that I read it. He was the connecting factor between Nijla and I talking. She was just really passionate about the project, but it was the script. It was something that I had never seen before, or read before. I think she had a really powerful voice.
How would you best describe your character Jade?
Simone Missick: Jade is a woman who is trying to figure herself out. She’s always constantly evolving and changing. She has now fallen in love with a religion, which is a way of her falling in love with herself. She’s always searching. When we meet her, she is newly inducted into this culture and this religion that she’s completely enraptured by. It’s causing a fracture in her life and in her relationship with her daughter, which is something that kind of happens often. So you just see a woman who’s trying to figure herself out.
How much research did you do into the Muslim culture, or did you know about it already?
Simone Missick: I have done some research prior to doing the film on Islam and Muslim culture because I workshopped a play, but it was a very different scope. It was about a woman who was raised in Iraq, who was of African descent and was a Muslim, whereas this, a black American Muslim is such a different culture, such a different thing. What was great was because Nijla is Muslim and she is African American, she is from California. I got to talk to her a lot about her own personal experience, and what it was like for her. The thing with Jade is she is discovering as the character, as much as the role the actor is discovering, so I didn’t have to do the same kind of research that I would normally have to do for a project, because just as I’m learning, she’s learning, which is a helpful thing in this scenario. I had Nijla there.
You’re working opposite Zoe. You’re playing mother and daughter. I think I haven’t seen all of your work. Is this something new for you?
Simone Missick: No. I mean, I’ve played moms in various different situations, but this is definitely the first feature film where I was playing somebody’s mother, and Zoe is such a giving and polished actress. It was so great to be her partner. She and I definitely had a chemistry that was immediate. The shoot was a very short shoot, so we had to figure it out very quickly. I think that we did. You know, we both came to work prepared and ready to play, and I think it comes out on the screen.
Now you’ve done theater, and a lot of people obviously know you from the Netflix shows. This is a big feature role for you, which obviously there’s a lot of scenes that you’re in. How is this for you as an actress? Is it challenging knowing that you have a lot more pages to go over than being part of an ensemble?
Simone Missick: No. The only thing that changes is the volume day to day, but because I was filming a Marvel project while the film was going on, it was an overload of work in the same way. They shot me out, I forget, in how many days, but we had to truncate all of my work into a shorter amount of time because I had to go back to New York and keep filming for Netflix, and for Marvel. It was just like having a busy week at work, you know? I think the biggest adjustment was going from playing one character for my job in New York to playing another character for this job in LA. I don’t approach the work any differently than, like you said, with theater.
You mentioned Dorian earlier. How was it working along with him on screen?
Simone Missick: Oh, it’s always a gift. You know, we have a short hand. We often work together as partners when we’re preparing for auditions or trying to help each other prep for work. This isn’t the first time that we’ve worked together on screen playing spouses. We’ve played boyfriend girlfriend before. We’ve done a play where we played friends. This is the first feature film where we play ex-husband and wife. We’re getting ready to be seen playing husband and wife on his show Tell Me A Story, and we had just finished working together on Luke Cage. Working with Dorian is kind of cheating, really, because the arguments feel real, and the emotions are definitely there and the love is always there, so that kind of makes me easy in most situations.
Now you mentioned Luke Cage, and we already know the series was cancelled, but is it over for you? Is it over for Misty Knight?
Simone Missick: I couldn’t tell you. I have no clue. I know that as it stands right now, I know just as much as the fans do. That’s all I can say.
What is it a shock when you heard?
Simone Missick: No one knew. I think everyone in the cast and crew found out at the same time. So no, it wasn’t anything that we had prepared for, but that is the nature of the business. Shows can get canceled, and people who work as creatives, they know that all good things eventually come to an end. Sadly for the fans it didn’t come to an end in a way that they wanted it to, and most certainly not in a way that we as a cast wanted to say goodbye, but I think all actors prepare themselves for that reality. Things don’t go on forever.
True. I know you’ve answered it before while the show was still going on, but now that both shows (Luke Cage & Iron Fist) that you were on, would you like to see Misty Knight go on in a separate standalone series?
Simone Missick: Like you said, I’ve been interested before, but it hasn’t changed before. She’s a great character to play. She’s a lot fun, but I think she resonates with fans a lot. Any opportunity to let them see her continue would be a blessing.
Jinn is about to hit theaters, and it’s played at a lot of places. Do you have an idea as to what you see the audiences is getting out of this movie? How would you best sell an audience when you’re competing with a lot of big films coming out in theaters, and a lot of stuff appearing on Netflix, Hulu and other shows on cable or streaming services?
Simone Missick: I think that what resonates with people in this film is the story. It’s not a story that we’ve ever seen before. You never get to see the story of just a young black girl coming of age without it shrouded in violence or tragedy, some horrible incident that helps her find her voice. This is just a story of a young girl living in LA trying to figure out who she is, trying to discover herself sexually and emotionally, as well as within a new religion. It’s something that we just don’t see. I think that it deserves to be shared. It deserves to be experienced by audiences. Every person that I’ve talked to who’s walked out of that theater has felt changed, because it’s something that they can see themselves in whether they are a man with daughters, or a single woman who realizes that she never really kind of dealt with her own issues that she encountered during adolescence. It doesn’t matter. Everybody sees a part of themselves in this film.
Where do we see you next? Do you have any other big screen projects coming up?
Simone Missick: I am out there pounding the pavement like everybody. As soon as I know, you will know.
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