“I never knew how much Joy it would bring me to produce…It’s fun to step back and support artist…It reminds of the passion I had."
With his legacy cemented as a bona fide hip-hop legend and a shocking, albeit well earned, career in film, Chicago native Common is relaxed and confident at the Los Angeles premiere of his new film, “They Fight.”
The two-time Grammy Award winner, actor, and producer fielded questions at the star studded event at NeueHouse Hollywood in front of celebs and co producers (including Michael Finley, Cynthia Bailey, Theo James, DJ Taco, Mike Hill, Majid Jordan, Kid Ink, Odie and the film’s director Andrew Renzi) with the ease of a seasoned, Hollywood veteran punctuating the fact that after nearly three decades in the industry as a rapper and actor, he’s ready to take his place behind the scenes as a facilitator for new, up and coming actors and writers and producers.
“It’s very important to see film that tell unique stories, those are the things that bring us closer to each other those are the things that give us more understanding to each other without being preachy,” he said.
FOX Sports’ Hill hosted a post-screening panel discussion with the film’s stars Lamar “Twin” Odoms (not to be confused with the embattled former NBA star), Quincey Williams, Ragahleak “Peanut” Bartee, coach Sterling “Scoop” Thornton, LVRN co-founder Justice Baiden and director Andrew Renzi.
The fact that many people (including the president of the United States—a former reality show star with no government experience) are extremely vocal about entertainers “sticking to sports” or “sticking to comedy” and similar sly and treacherous rhetoric, helps lift the premiere from the typical self celebratory photo op to an act of defiance, especially on the heels of such an explosive midterm Election Day that saw Republicans lose the House of Representatives to a wave a young, cool and diverse new Democrats.
While the film, which was nominated for a 2018 Sports Emmy, isn’t entrenched in politics, it does speak to and for a demographic that is often overlooked. The story is Set in Washington, D.C.’s Ward 8 neighborhood, a swath of land that includes some of the city’s poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods, it’s ground zero for many violent crimes every year and referred to as a “war zone” by Councilmember Trayon White.
“They Fight” is about the journey of teen boxers Ragahleak “Peanut” Bartee and Quincey Williams (Both winners of multiple matches and titles) as part of the “Lyfe Style” Boxing training program. They’re mentored by Coach Walt Manigan who has dreams of the 2017 Junior Olympics, while also fighting to find a permanent home for the gym while helping the young fighters steer clear of the many dangers in their community all while managing his own personal problems.
As expected, the documentary has a strong soundtrack featuring new music from multi-platinum artist 6lack, Odie, Octavian, Boogie, and others and speak directly to the films’ themes and characters’. LVRN, headed by Justice Baiden, collaborated on the soundscape.
“’They Fight’ is an incredibly powerful film – one that we knew had to be a part of the ‘Magnify’ series,” says Charlie Dixon, executive vice president, content, FOX Sports.
“It fits perfectly within our mission to use sports as a lens for telling important cultural stories. We’re happy with what we’ve accomplished in one year and excited to keep growing this brand with fresh, new documentaries and influential collaborators.”
“The magnify series is a great outlet to tell stories about people who you normally would never get a chance to know…” said the Emmy, Grammy, Golden Globe and Oscar winner Common.
The “MAGNIFY” documentary series launched in November 2017 with “89 Blocks,” executive produced by LeBron James and Sports Illustrated.
“Magnify does a good job of going into the cracks and crevices to find films that are the voices for those people…that are naturally overlooked by society.”
The prospect of Common as a producer is an interesting one. Especially if he continues to move forward as a filmmaker who wants to make a social impact with his films.
“People who come from D.C. getting to see other aspects of life, even the jobs that are provided, the simple things, I love it.”
Maybe he’ll follow the advice of so many people and continue to “Stick to Entertainment.”
(Photo: Michael Tullberg/Getty Images)