Impact creates reaction. In the arts, impact is what keeps one afloat in an industry buzzing with aspiring hearts and a revolving door that’s out with the old and in with the new before your eye completes a single blink. It’s a serious hustle.
In the wide arena of entertainment, movements of impact can be trendy or offer more to the level where it lingers to your soul. It becomes imperative when deciding the type of impact one wants to leave with the masses or just a select few. Ultimately, the choice comes down to what speaks to you and the core of your being. What makes you react?
“I’ve always tried to make decisions based on impact,” Michael Ealy tells N’DIGO. ” I want to do a role with impact and the reason being is, I think, whether it’s by accident or it’s intentional, you’re able to stay in the eyesight of what’s going on because your role was memorable.”
Impact doesn’t come without its share of challenges either. While audiences and fans of the grey-eyed actor first fell in lust with him as the thugged-out Ricky Nash in Barbershop and its sequel, Ealy, unlike most, was able to skip the type-cast rhythm and segue into roles that showed a more intense and artistic style of his talents. One of the most challenging being his award-nominated and African American Film Critics Association award- winning performance in Tyler Perry’s 2010 remake of poet Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls”. In it, Ealy’s character suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, an illness that affects a great deal of war veterans. We saw him in a new way - he wasn’t the flirtacious fella going after the girl or orchestrating a lucrative heist, no we see Ealy’s character enveloped in a darkness.
“I personally have never been in the military, never been to war. I personally do not beat up on women. It’s not something that I do. And being judgmental about that is something that I have been in the past,” Ealy explains. “However, having learned as much as I’ve learned about post-traumatic stress disorder, it was important for me to take that role to try and showcase how important it is that we pay attention to what war is doing to each and every one of our families. [With choosing roles and scripts] it’s just one of those things where there’s usually something educational or fun going on. I look for something that I can grab on to.”
Transitioning from that space of challenge and darkness led the suave actor into a light with a comedic ensemble. Dominic, the aspiring chef and Ealy’s character in another box-office hit, the adaptation of Steve Harvey’s New York Time’s Bestseller’s book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man”, paired Ealy with every chic’s bff- in their head, Taraji P. Henson. Think Like A Man grossed $100 million, beating out “The Hunger Games” at number one and is currently available on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Somehow, Michael Ealy is able to continuously find success on the big screen and the small sector. His skill ranges from the aforementioned films to action-packed cinema such as in ‘Takers’ and 2 Fast 2 Furious, sci-fi like his role in Underworld: Awakening to the beautiful aesthetic and importance in films like Miracle at St. Anna and Their Eyes Were Watching God. On the small screen his charisma still shined in appearances on CBS’s The Good Wife and can currently be seen on USA’s ‘Common Law’ which stars Ealy and co-star Warren Kole as Los Angeles detectives who can’t stand each other and are forced to attend couple’s therapy to remedy the situation for the betterment of their jobs.
Whether he’s making us chuckle or serving intense drama and looking quite pleasing to the eye while doing it, there’s one role he had yet explored and one that spoke to the core of what he stands for as an actor and as a man. It’s the role that introduces a call-to-action.
In the creative arts, everyday is a new adventure. Whether you’re on set shooting for TV or traveling to new locations to film a movie, the journey takes you on twists and turns. You learn different personalities and adapt to a wide range of environments along the way.
And the journey continues for Michael Ealy in the independent released film ‘UNCONDITIONAL‘ hitting theaters on September 21. The 97-minute creation is the first feature film from Harbinger Media Partners, which creates and produces quality cinema to inspire moviegoers to pursue God and serve others. Inspired by true events, Unconditional tells the stories of Samantha Crawford and Joe Bradford, two childhood friends that lost touch and went separate paths in their adult lives only to be reunited through unlikeable circumstances, yet the purpose and message is strong and spiritually meant.
Ealy portrays Joe Bradford, affectionately known as “Papa Joe” in his inner-city Texas community. “Papa Joe” is somewhat of an unsung hero in the community. In a society where actual fathers are replaced by father figures or mommy playing both roles, Papa Joe is a father to all. He takes youth in and teaches them the importance of education and offers pure love.
Preparing for this role reconnected Ealy with his initial interest in teaching while in college and working with youth, both in the inner-city and on the collegiate level. “My goal was to ultimately become a high school teacher. I wanted to try and help the youth to be inspired by our past, our aesthetics, our culture and learn some other great cultures and experiences. I still, at times, have that teaching bug in me and I still want to try and educate, especially the youth on how the world works, what you can do, how you can find your place and the importance of knowing your history,” he says genuinely. “All qualities of the real Joe Bradford.”
That was the attraction to this film and the role of “Papa Joe”. “It was, we have a man who is doing everything in his power, not only to save his friend but to save the kids in the community one step at a time,” Ealy expresses. [Joe Bradford] is not looking for headlines, tabloids, or anything like that. For him, it’s about trying to save these kids from being fatherless and being loss in this world and that’s one of the most admirable things that one can do with one’s life.”
Unconditional’s storyline is unraveled in a poetic flow, professing prosperous lives shattered in the shake of a moment. Souls are on the edge of death but there’s a spiritual nature that reveals itself and brings comfort – showing that through pain, joy still abounds.
“In this day and age when so many children are struggling to find relevancy day in and day out – like why don’t I matter? Why is my voice not being heard? Because no one will listen, but the real Joe Bradford will listen. That’s what spoke to me.”
UNCONDITIONAL opens September 21st.
For more about the film visit www.UnconditionaltheMovie.com
Keep up with Michael Ealy on Twitter : @MichaelEaly.