Vivian Oparah On ‘Rye Lane’ Cinematography And How She Wants To ‘Pay It Forward’ For Future Actresses

The film hits Hulu on March 31.

Every story about the Black experience deserves to be heard, and soon viewers can enjoy a new coming-of-age tale on Hulu. Rye Lane is a British romantic-comedy that follows the journey of two twenty-somethings who are trying to recover from bad break-ups. Over the course of an eventful day in South London, they bond and help each other deal with their nightmare exes, potentially reigniting their hope for love.

Recently, had the pleasure of speaking with Vivian Oparah, who plays Yas in the film. During the interview, she discussed the movie's vibrant cinematography, and how she honors the legacy of actresses who have made space for her in the industry. The cinematography in the film is distinct, with many close-up shots of the characters when they deliver dialogue to wide-shot scenes. What do you think Raine Allen-Miller’s intentions were behind this when it came to storytelling?

Oparah: She is curious about the world around her, and it's almost such a loving perspective of how she views South London, where she grew up. She just wanted to depict it with that same love and vibrancy, which mirrored the experience she must have had growing up there. I think she and the crew wanted to capture the mundane, nitty, and like everydayness of Black life – we’re not always going through some crazy sh**, and sometimes we meet someone on the toilet and converse. There’s something so dreamlike in the simplicity and honesty of the Black experience – she uses these colors and embellishments with these shot types to bring it off the page a bit more. How was it working on set, and did you face any challenges?

Oparah: I’ve never looked forward to going to work so early. Raine hired people who were good being good at their individual practice but also made sure they were Black – the creative team cared, too. It’s inspiring to see people who are incredibly great at their job but also care about the culture – I obviously loved, from a personal perspective, that they were Black. Yas is an incredibly curious character, and having an environment that is readily available to you and will join the film whether you ask for it or not was wonderful. Yas shares that everyone has a mess to them. What is your “mess” and how do you accept it / embrace it?

Oparah: My mess is trying to keep everything neat – Yas is quite different from me by learning in real time if she’s making the best decisions or not, whereas I don’t care what people think, and I’m private with my emotions. The term “pay your dues” is used a lot in different professional fields. What does the term mean to you within your respective field, and how have you done so?

Oparah: I’m someone who is vocal when it comes to gratitude – someone said to me “isn’t it great you’re telling a different Black story” and I had to let them know that all Black stories are valid, Maybe there were few movies similar to ‘Rye Lane’ that pushed folks to give this film a chance. I’m grateful to the people who have come before me, like Michaela Coel and Letitia Wright who pushed to create space. They may not have given me a direct opportunity, but their work has so through my work, I hope I, directly and indirectly, continue to open up space because that’s how you show gratitude to continue the intention that was put into you.

Rye Lane is out in theaters in the United Kingdom but will make its way to Hulu on March 31.

*This interview has been edited for length and clarity

Ty Cole is a New York-based entertainment reporter and writer for who covers pop culture, music, and lifestyle. Follow his latest musings on Twitter @IamTyCole.

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