Over the weekend, Deondray Gossett and Quincy LeNear will debut the newest installment of The DL Chronicles at the In the Life Film Festival. In case your Labor Day weekend plans do not take you to Atlanta, Deondray and Quincy are providing Rod 2.0 readers with another, exclusive preview.
The DL Chronicles: Robert follows the format of the earlier episode, narrated by Chadwick Williams as he researches a book on men who live on the down-low. There are several twists here. First, this episode is almost a romantic comedy and it's truly ROFL. Also, there is an unexpected plot twist about halfway through, which unfortunately we cannot reveal, but, will change your mind about how you perceive the characters.
Terrell Tilford stars as Robert, a successful and
closeted down-low talent agent in Los Angeles. Tilford is well-known for his roles on Soul Food, Guiding Light, CSI, and, as the openly gay baseball player in the LA production of Take Me Out.
"He was very excited about the script," recalls Quincy LeNear. "We knew him from Soul Food and thought that he would be perfect." Deondray adds: "And the fact that he was comfortable with the subject matter was a plus. The last thing a director wants to do is a sell an actor on a script."
Robert falls hard for Austin—gorgeous Kareem Ferguson, Scrubs, Vegas—the perfectly symmetrical gym boy who manages an upscale health food store. Therein lies the first conflict: Austin is almost 20 years Robert's junior. Also, Robert does not call himself gay and lives a deeply closeted life. Austin, on the other hand, is open. "People think I'm straight," he tells Robert. "But I'll tell people if they ask me."
Austin's character is an interesting one—sexy yet reluctant, a playfulness that conceals a hurting inside, which he reveals early on. "I can't get with you DL brothers," he jokes to Robert. "You know, the ones on Oprah with a dick in one hand and a wedding ring in the other."
"We have one character who is closeted, one who is not," says co-director Deondray Gossett. "Two characters with two different perspectives on how to make it work." Quincy LeNear, Deondary's real-life partner, adds: "Plus Kareem was wonderful in this role. He's acted on a number of series, like Scrubs. This was a coup for us."
Actually, the real coup is actress Sheilynn Wactor, last seen on Broadway in STOMP. Her turn as Shirley, Austin's best friend, is truly out of the box. Probably originally envisioned as comic-relief, it's obvious that the directors knew that they were working with gold in Shirley's character and with Sheilynn.
"We needed a lighter approach to what can sometimes be the darker side of life," explains Quincy. "Why not laugh at love? Stories about black gay men in the closet do not always have to be so high drama. Even though there is more than enough in this epiosde."
That drama comes in the form of Rhonda (newconer Toyin Moses) the "very special lady" in Robert's life. Let us say this: We don't want to reveal her identity, but this is not the usual story about a DL man and his girlfriend or wife. "That was a strategic decision to keep her identity somewhat of a secret," Deondray admits. "And we've taken some heat for it from people who have only seen the You Tube trailer. But if you watch the episode, it will challenge your perceptions."
There are several surprises that make The DL Chronicles: Robert very enjoyable. Karamo Brown makes a cameo appearance as one of Robert's straight associates. The soundtrack includes wonderful tracks by Jody Watley, Steph Jones and Mike Anthony. The art direction is impeccable, often borrowing from the substantial collection of Terrell Tilford, a noted artist and collector in his own right.
Sure, there is the dreamy camera presence of Kareem Ferguson. But by far, the most enjoyable aspects of this short is the romantic comedy storyline and the acting of Sheilynn Wactor, who literally dominates the screen in her short time on screen. Quincy and Deondray tell Rod 2.0 that they are negotiating deals to possibly bring the series to DVD or television, "and this epsiode would most likely be the first in the series," says Quincy. "Because we've received so much strong feedback."
The DL Chronicles: Robert will be screened Saturday, September 2 at In The Life Film Festival, Atlanta. Also screened will be the critically-acclaimed On the Low, directed by Luther Mace and starring Deondray Gossett.
The DL Chronicles: Robert (Trailer: You Tube)
Deondray Gossett (MySpace)
Previously:The DL Chronicles (Rod 2.0) DL Chronicles Interview (Rod 2.0) On the Low (Rod 2.0) London Calling (Rod 2.0) A Conversation with Luther Mace (Rod 2.0) A Conversation with Keith Boykin (Rod 2.0) On the Low (Rod 2.0) On the Low on Logo (Rod 2.0) "The Down Low Exposed" (Rod 2.0) The "Invisible" Man Returns (Rod 2.0)