Relationships are entertaining and they can be complex! They come with rewards, responsibilities, and risks. The new indie film “Don’t Marry Griff” provides a dramatic entertainment experience demonstrating the true meaning of “it’s complicated.”
In “Don’t Marry Griff,” the long-term close friendship between Lyodell Archer (Steven L.Coard) and best friend Sutton Brown (Chris DeLoatch) is shaken to its very core when Sutton confesses his love to Lyodell. Things get complicated because he chooses to reveal his love just as Lyodell is about to marry his fiancé Griffith Lowell (JR Rolley) who is already suspicious of their relationship.
The Kinkster MAG team had the pleasure of interviewing the film’s director and writer (and cast member) Steven L. Coard to learn more about him, his artistic endeavors, and the film which is set for national release on November 18, 2016.
Born in North Carolina, Coard spent much of his formative adolescent years between there and Brooklyn, where his family moved. Inspired by the stories and music of the musical Ragtime, his early aspirations were to be the next Broadway star. Trying his hand at acting he came to realize there were limited opportunities in North Carolina.
Arriving in NYC, Coard landed a small role in the independent film The Get Em Girlz. (ShyFine Ent). Shortly thereafter he decided to put aside his dreams of becoming the next leading man in Hollywood and decided to focus on comedy. And poof, the character named I’Wante Diamond was created.
I’Wante has performed heavily throughout the comedy club circuit and was named new comedian of the 2011 competition at The Broadway Comedy Club. He has also performed in Stand up NY, The New York Comedy Club, C.B Comedy Club, The Nexus Lounge, and the world famous Apollo Theater. In comedy, Coard has become known for his unique mocking of the urban lifestyle and popular commercial culture.
Having many years of experience in corporate America, Coard has learned the ropes and made it his mission to learn all the rules. He’s taken what he’s learned, created his own company Color of Love Production Studio, where he is in full control of his artistic vision and the company’s operations.
Self-labeled an “illusion artist,” he says comedy is challenging. However, he successfully seems to leave his signature comedic twist in his works. He explained that even when presenting serious issues in his works, the comedy can come from taking the seriousness and playing it up and making it over the top and giving you something to think about.
Much of Coard’s inspiration comes from the entertaining and sometimes troubling stories of his family. Like many artists he goes right to what he knows finding those shared experiences which will resonate most with others. When developing “Don’t Marry Griff,” he drew from the experiences and tales from a very close family member. He admits there are also some elements from his personal experiences as well. He takes those life experiences and transforms them into a modern day, relevant, and important example of what we ALL deal with in relationships and family no matter who you are.
We shared our thoughts from a previous Kinkster MAG article, “Tyler Perry is Failing Black Gay Men” where we opined how African-American gay male characters on television are widely cast in situations that are less than favorable. We compared that opinion to “Don’t Marry Griff” where Coard offers a highly refreshing portrayal and honest dialogue between and among African-American gay men who are NOT on the DL and who are NOT being tossed aside by their family for coming out, but rather they are shown as out, strong, African-American men dealing with real, authentic relationships among their their family and friends.
We also shared with him that even our heterosexual, Latina/African-American female friend was in awe by the presentation of gay African-American characters dealing with day-to-day issues including domestic abuse, family responsibilities, social status struggles, love, and friendships some of which she thought were not relevant in the gay community.
Coard says, “I have always dreamed of the day when I could produce my own independent film for the gay African-American community. I aim to create unique and original stories that will hopefully unite our community.” Through his work Coard is telling stories relevant to a range of people and experiences and he’s not using some of the typical, repetitive content or styles that are out there.
Other recent works from Coard include Heartbreaks and Soulmates (2016) and upcoming Raye (2017). When asked how “Don’t Marry Griff” compares to his other works, he said that a common theme is love. Coard says he is “addicted to love.” He believes that it’s out there for everyone and it’s much easier for people to obtain than they think. He says that oftentimes people use fear of rejection as an excuse for not going after what they want. We agree, ya gotta put yourself out there.
As we wrapped up our conversation, in typical Kinkster MAG fashion, we had to ask our signature question, “What is something you have done that would be considered edgy, unconventional, or tight-lipped?” Hesitantly, Coard said, “Well, I recently discovered some online content so enjoyable I had to stock up on Bounty paper towels.” We left it at that!
The film “Don’t Marry Griff” releases nationally on November 18, 2016 on Color of Love Production Studios.
Kinkster MAG readers are invited to attend a free screening of the film where they can meet the members of the cast in person: Saturday, November 5, 1:00-3:00 pm — RSVP NOW!
And if you like “Don’t Marry Griff,” you’re in luck! Coard gave us the exclusive news that this is only the first film of a trilogy! More will be revealed with Lyodell, Sutton, and Griff so stay tuned!
This article co-authored by John S. Myers.