Nicholls-King: How She Move

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[Entertainment: Film Review]


Melanie Nicholls-King portrays the role of Mrs. Green in the upcoming movie How She Move, a Paramount Vantage release, due out in theatres on Friday, January 25th.

Nicholls-King plays the mother of Raya Green (Rutina Wesley) a young medical student who cannot withstand the pressures of family, and studying to be a doctor, after her sister's untimely death due to a drug overdose. The finances of the family collapse and Raya no longer has the funds to attend her posh private school. Due to these personal pressures, Raya blows her scholarship exam.

Knowing that the hopes of the family lie on her, Raya cannot bring herself to tell her family of her inability to win a scholarship.

Without private school funds, Raya must return to her old neighborhood school where she endures the taunts of her former friends who see Raya's quest to rise above her circumstances in life, as a denial of them. Desperate to get the money she needs to return to her private school, Raya learns of a step-dance competition that is offering a $50, 000.00 prize.

Knowing how both her parents are working hard to keep her out of the streets, Raya hides the fact that she has returned to the streets in order to secretly step-dance her way into her friend Bishop's (played by Dwain Murphy) all-male dance crew. It isn't long before she wins a place on his team and steps into Bishop's heart. But Raya is so consumed by her quest she steps on Bishop's heart on her way to the prize.

"This is the kind of film I am drawn to, wherein emotions run high. I like dramatic parts where dynamics such the ones experienced by my character play out. As someone always interested in learning who I am, I found the character of Mrs. Green complex and interesting. She is a woman whose dreams have been dashed and who is disappointed that for all her hard work, she hasn't gotten further ahead. She has lost one daughter to the streets thus places all her dreams and ambitious on Raya to win," says Melanie of her character.

Melanie sees a parallel in the mother daughter interaction between Raya and her role as Raya's mother as it played out in her own personal life. Of Caribbean heritage, and having grown up in Canada, Nicholls-King was also steered toward medicine as a child by her parents. A bright child, her parents encouraged Melanie to study to be a doctor and discouraged her interest in the performing arts. Her parents did not see acting as a realistic goal, so Melanie continued to study math, medicine, and science and acted only as a sideline. "In How She Move, I was the mother, wanting for Raya, the same goals my own mother wanted for me," stated Melanie who finally insisted on devoting her life to the performing arts to the disappointment of her parents.

How She Move, filmed in Canada, highlights the perspective of the Caribbean immigrant and their struggles to assimilate into to their adopted nation. Melanie was born in England, lived in Trinidad and spent most of her life in Canada until moving to New York. Most of her earlier films were filmed in Canada.

A talented actress, Melanie has done rather well as a performer. Nominated for a Dora Award for Best Female Performance in Small Theatre she also won an Audelco Award nomination. Finding roles were limited for women of color, she and two other women founded "Sugar 'n Spice," their own theatre company in order to provide much need roles unavailable in the mainstream.

Melanie's film and TV work include: "Rude," "Guilty As Sin," "Skin Deep," and "What Makes A Family," a film she did with Brooke Shields; Forever Knight; The Defenders; The Wire; Law & Order: Criminal Intent; Third Watch; The Famous Jett Jackson and with Forest Whitaker in "Deacons for Defense," et al.

"How She Move," directed by Ian Igbal Rashid, was filmed in Ontario, and was showcased at the Sundance Film Festival. Its young cast consist of Tracey Armstrong (Michelle), Cle Bennett (Garvey); Nina Dobrev (Britney), Shawn Fernandez (Trey), Brennan Gademans (Quake) and Romina D'Ugo (Selia), et al.

"I enjoyed working with the kids in the HOW SHE MOVE. I worked with Rutina (Raya) mostly in the film and she was amazing. She was a recent school graduate yet had a real connection to acting. She had a mature attitude that said 'this is about the work.' There were no tantrums on the set or egos, just the entire cast working together to make the film the best project possible. Most amazing was that for most of the kids on the film, it was their first major gig. In fact, although Rutina had some dance background she did not know step-dancing. She picked it up in 3 weeks of rehearsal," explained Melanie.

The history of gum-boot dancing has its roots in Africa. In Canada, step-dancing is more a part of the community. Although, my character does not step dance, she dances in the movie symbolically as we all dance through life trying to figure out what step to make next," said Melanie philosophically.

How She Move is an interesting film because while it is mostly about the interrelationships of the youthful characters, it highlights the dynamics between Raya's mother and father. In many black films there is often a divide between male and female characters. This holds true for Melanie's character who vents her frustration upon her husband until she too comes to see what is truly valuable in life.

A wife and mother, Melanie presently has the lead role in Thomas Gibbons Bee-Luther-Hatchee a production at Stamford Theatre Works running from January 30th-February 17th. "Actors have to be patient. They have to have a degree of stick-to-ism," claims the determined actress. "Since an actor often goes from role-to-role, you cannot just wait for the phone to ring. You have to go out and create your own opportunities."

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