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'The Crossover' Cast on the Black Family Dynamic Being Represented in the Series

Stars of the new series The Crossover all had different reasons for wanting to be a part of such a project. And as filming took place, the protagonists eventually found themselves in each character.

The show is based on the critically-acclaimed best-selling novel in-verse by Kwame Alexander, who introduces two brothers Josh and Jordan Bell — widely considered basketball phenoms. And through lyrical poetry, an adult version of Josh, known as Filthy McNasty, narrates the story of how he and his brother come up, on and off the court, while their former professional basketball player father, Chuck Bell, reinvents himself to life after the game he loves the most.

The Disney+ show started streaming on April 5.

Derek Luke is also the star of many Black classics such as Antwone Fisher, Biker Boyz, Friday Night Lights, and Notorious, among other films. He said this film was perfect for him because of what it means to be a dad.

“My inspiration comes from just wanting to be a dad because in being a dad, is being a coach,” Luke said to The Quintessential Gentleman in an interview. “It’s layered because you have to know when to drive, you have to know when to do the crossover. I remember hearing the adults growing up, and I would hear things like, ‘You don’t want to break his spirit.’ If you say the wrong thing, you can lose him. So being a coach and being a dad is like gears., and it’s like being … flexible — a lot like the game of life…”

It was all about auditioning and feeling comfortable for Amir O’Neil, who plays Jordan Bell and also starred in Madagascar: A Little Wild.

“Being able to work with Jalen really excited me. And also, just being able to put the book on to screen because I had read the book after I got the audition,” O'Neil said. “It was all that I ever wanted. I love the book. I love the script...”

The script was so good that there are actually similarities between actor Jalyn Hall, who plays Filthy, and his character and his character's brother.

“…But then you have someone like JB, who is creative (and) isn’t just confined to one thing, and I feel like that is me as well,” Hall said. “While I know what I want to do with my life with acting … what that tells the world is you don’t have to know who you are right now. There’s no rush…”

Still, Luke said there is a very important role that this show depicts: the showing of a good father to Black boys.

“…One of the book mentors said it. He said, ‘Fathers are the foundation. What happens if you move the foundation,’” Luke asked. “We have a genre that’s powerful that’s called hip hop. … one side is Dear Mama, on the other said was like, I don’t have a dad. And so, any opportunity that we get to show a dad means foundation, especially a present dad – one that could navigate your direction.”

Luke said it is important for a present father because, in a world in which Black men are portrayed as being threatening, it’s imperative for that father to help navigate a child through those treacherous waters.

“There’s no hood harder than fatherhood,” Luke said.

Check out the full interview below.

Photo Credit: Disney/Alyssa Moran

1 Comment

As a fan of "The Crossover" series, I deeply appreciate the nuanced portrayal of the Black family dynamic within its pages. The way the characters navigate their relationships, challenges, and triumphs feels authentic and relatable. It's crucial to see diverse narratives like these represented in literature. For those interested in exploring themes like these further, I highly recommend checking out Their coursework resources delve into various literary analyses, providing valuable insights and perspectives on works like "The Crossover." It's a fantastic resource for students and enthusiasts alike looking to deepen their understanding of literature and its cultural significance.

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