Director A.V. Rockwell’s debut feature film A Thousand And One is garnering rave reviews, most recently nabbing the Grand Jury Prize at The Sundance Film Festival.
Actress Teyana Taylor told HipHollywood she almost wrecked her parked car upon hearing the news they won.
“I think I might have hit the press start or something,” joked the mother of two daughters. “I had never been to Sundance before, it was my first time at Sundance. And me, I’m just like, so grateful all the time, you know what I’m saying? And just so happy that people would see what I could really do, that the last thing in my brain was whether we were going to win or not.”
In the film, Taylor plays a struggling mom in Harlem who kidnaps her son from the foster care system upon her release from jail. She told HipHollywood it was God’s perfect timing landing the role after making the tough decision to retire from music.
“Had I not been through all the trials and tribulations that I have been through throughout my career and throughout my life, Inez, for me, would not have hit the same,” she said. “Being a mom, dealing with postpartum, it was definitely a lot. Inez was a heavy character, but Inez in that time that God put us together was the perfect therapy for me.”
While a native of Harlem herself, Taylor strips down and allows herself the space to be vulnerable and powerless on screen — a far cry from her bold offscreen persona.
“I was happy that A.V. gave me such a great opportunity and took out the time to really believe in me and not only believe in me, but, like, push me,” Taylor explained. “It wasn’t just like, oh, you from Harlem here, it’s yours. She made me do the work … and made me bring out different parts of me that I didn’t even really know that I had.”
The film also stars Aaron Kinglsey Adetola, Aven Courtney and Josiah Cross who play Taylor’s son Terry at the age of 6, 13 and 17-years-old. The unshakable bond between mother and son is surely the heart of this film and brought Taylor to a “ugly cry” throughout the process she said.
But as much as A Thousand and One is about a mother’s love, it’s also about a version of New York City that no longer exists and the citizens who got lost in the shuffle. For Rockwell A Thousand And One is a nod to her childhood growing up New York City, but is also a love letter to black women.
“Inez in particular is a composite of so many women that have surrounded me in my life growing up in the city, which I did want to honor. I wanted to honor the coming of age era that I grew up in within New York. And this is kind of my farewell to that time,” she said.
“I also just wanted to honor these women, like Inez, who in ways feel so misunderstood and so overlooked in society, but also within our community. I just wanted to make sure that these women, that they were being celebrated, this is my love letter to them in a number of ways.”
A Thousand And One opens in theaters on March 31, 2023.
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