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The Cast of 'Till' Discuss the Film and What They Want Young Black Boys to Learn From Watching

We've all heard the story of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy who was kidnapped, tortured and lynched in Mississippi in 1955. But many have never heard the story of his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, and what it was like for her during this devastating time. Until now.

Till tells the true story of Mamie and her journey to get justice for her young son Emmett and provides another example of the racism that is embedded and woven throughout the history of America.

This phenomenal film takes you on an emotional roller coaster that will make you feel angry, sad, and sorry for what Mamie had to endure. Mamie is played by Danielle Deadwyler who delivers an incredible performance that makes you feel every emotion you could imagine Emmett's mother felt. The movie also stars Jalyn Hall ( All American ) as Emmett Till, Whoopi Goldberg as Till's grandmother and Sean Patrick Thomas as Mamie's boyfriend.

The entire cast of Till poured their heart and soul into this production and you can tell everyone knew this story was more than just another credit on their IMDB page. During an Atlanta screening of Till, hosted by LS Studios, Louis Stancil moderated an intimate conversation with cast members Tyrik Johnson, Diallo Thompson and Gem Marc Collins who play Till's cousins.

On their experience working on Till, each said that the set was amazing and brought nothing but good vibes. One would think that the set would be pretty somber given the script and the nature of the film but the young men shared that they were laughing and joking for the most part. "It's so jarring seeing the film for the first time being an actor because when you're on set, the experience is so different than it ends up being in the final product," Diallo shares. After watching the film, you would never have guessed that the cast and crew had so much fun. But the story of Emmett Till is still a hard pill to swallow, especially for young Black men, so there was a therapist on set because "we were still kids," Tyrik shared.

In preparation for the film, everyone did their own research but everyone was given the book Simeon's Story, written by Till's cousin Simeon Wright. The book gives a first-hand account of what happened that day Till whistled at the white woman and the kidnapping. There was a dialect coach on set to help them with their southern accent. They also learned about Mississippi during that time period. Gem Marc shares that he watched Til's cousin Willie Parker's interviews every day on YouTube to prepare.

For a film with so much depth, it would be hard to imagine that these actors didn't take some parts of the characters home with them. "I definitely felt something from Simmy's perspective. It's a true story," Tyrik shared. The cousins of Till felt so much guilt and blamed themselves for what happened. "You place blame on yourself. And that heaviness, I did feel that as far as just looking at my real family members and kind of feeling a way. I want to make sure they're safe. So I did take that home with me," Diallo explains. He has a nephew and younger cousins and knows how much he loves them and wants to protect them. He could understand the guilt that his character felt.

While on set it was important for the young men to find happiness in being kids. "I remember one of the things that a director emphasized to me for our scenes was the joy that kids have, and that they that she wanted us to bring to life," Gem Marc shares. It's unfortunate that young Black boys are unable to be just that, boys. They are deemed young men and are feared in this country.

After watching Till, Diallo wants young Black boys to know this story. "Move in your life knowing how things used to be for us and all the work that we put in to get where we are now. And to know not to be so selfish and self-centered and know that we have to work together to make more progress, even past this point." Tyrik wants young Black boys to be "mindful of your surroundings. Know who you can trust." "Look to your elders, and look to people who are older than you," Gem Marc adds.

Hear more from Diallo, Tyrik and Gem Marc in the panel discussion below.

Till is currently playing in select theaters and will be available everywhere October 28.


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