Before social media, we knew actors as actors. Most of us picked a favorite movie star based on their talent and movies alone. Now with everyone having a platform, we know so much more about people and the things they care about. In some cases, having a large social media following can even help actors land a job. When it comes to using their platform for more than work, such as speaking out about issues important to them and taking a stand to educate others, the One Night in Miami stars have strong thoughts.
Regina King’s One Night in Miami tells the story of four friends Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge) and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) meeting to celebrate Clay’s win and new title of World Heavyweight Champion, shortly before he changed his name to Muhammah Ali. The four discuss the civil rights movement throughout the film and they all feel their roles in it differently in their respective careers. I got to sit down with Eli Goree for an interview with CinemaBlend and was curious about how he feels this weight in his own life as an actor, and here’s what he said:
I think if you’re doing your job right as an artist in general, or just as a human being, if you’re doing what you’re called to do then you’re going to have something to say about something that’s important to you. And I think you just have to be authentic about that, whatever that is. People aren’t always going to agree with it, it’s not always going to be what other people think is right or wrong, but as long as you’re being authentic and you’re doing what you believe is morally right, then I think that’s your responsibility.
Career aside, Eli Goree maintains that everyone should be authentic and strive to do what they believe is morally right, and who can argue with that? It’s been interesting to see so many celebrities speaking out about different issues, and how they respond to backlash as well. As Goree said, people aren’t always going to agree with what one thinks is right or wrong, so it makes sense that as long as a person stands by something and feels good about it, that they should feel confident speaking about it.
Kingsley Ben-Adir, who portrays Malcolm X in One Night in Miami, shared similar sentiments, although he is not active on social media himself. He’s very focused on honing his craft as an actor, and it sounds like social media could detract from that in some ways. When asked what he thinks about the responsibility of using his platform for more, Ben-Adir said:
I’m not really sure that I know what my platform is yet. It’s been really interesting watching Regina and Aldis and Leslie, you know and Eli as well to some extent, be on social media and understanding like oh, wow, what you say matters. I’m not on social media so I don’t have that kind of responsibility. I’m sort of engaging in this kind of press for the first time and I’m understanding that when you speak, it will be printed and this is all kind of new. I definitely feel as an actor it’s my responsibility to always be interpreting stories and character and trying to bring as high a degree as possible of humanity to everyone I’m playing so that people can see themselves in the characters that we’re putting on screen.
Kingsley Ben-Adir does not feel he has that responsibility since he is not on social media, and that makes complete sense. Social media is what gave us the behind-the-scenes look into the lives of people we don’t know, and while doing interviews as part of movie promotion was part of the job long before social media, there’s something about being able to send a thought out and have millions of people read it seconds later that carries a new weight. Ben-Adir elaborated on his love for acting, saying:
I fell in love with filmmaking, with acting and films, because of those moments where you see a character experiencing something and you recognize yourself in that moment. And I don’t underestimate that for one minute how emotionally powerful that can be, and I just dreamed of trying to figure out a way to somehow be a part of this thing. I feel like decency and kindness and being good to your family, those things are important as well, really important, how you treat other people and being consistent in that. Just not being a dick, and treating everyone with respect and throwing everything you have into everything and just being grateful for the opportunities. My full concentration is on that for now, if I somehow get a platform or join social media and have lots of people listening to me one day I’ll rethink my position, but for now yeah it’s just acting and the job.