Deceit, vulnerability and manipulation to the max has never been acted out better on TV One than in “When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakey Story.”
This TV One original film stars Niatia “Lil Mama” Kirkland as the vulnerable exotic dancer Falicia Blakely, Lance Gross (Why Did I Get Married? & Deuces) as a pimp name Dino, who is Falicia’s predator, and Tami Roman (Basketball Wives) as Falicia’s unprotective mother. Making her directorial debut is actress Tasha Smith (Empire & ATL).
This filmed based off a true story tells the dark side of how men praying on vulnerable women can send them down the wrong path. When Falicia falls in love with Dino she’s willing to do anything for him to seek his love, even when Dino can go from 0-100 in a blink of an eye.
One scene Falicia brings home $400 after a night of work. While she thought it was a come-up a headbutt from Dino told her otherwise. The abuse didn’t stop there, Dino jumps back to nice guy mode with a thumb brushing her face and a kiss to deceit her into thinking he loves her. Falicia feels she deserved the blow and from there it only gets worse.
TV One, the cast and crew talked about the importance of telling this black narrative during a private screening at the 2017 National Association of Black Journalists Convention August 11. The cast also reveals challenges taking on characters that were the complete opposite of them in real life.
“TV One has a lot of courage and a lot of faith to do this movie,” Smith said. “This story is a story we need to see and discuss at home with our children. There’s so many young kids out there going to the strip club trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents.”
Smith having been a stripper in the past relates and respects the hustle for exotic dancing women, her focus is revealing the predators influencing those women to go into prostitution. In the case of Falicia Blakey she’s serving a life sentence for committing murder, a path she went down because she was manipulated by a predator.
Lil Mama as Falicia Blakely
Taking on the role of Falicia was a challenge for Kirkland as there were times she wished she could make the right decisions for her character. Working with Smith helped put her acting in perspective.
“Most times we become the hero in hindsight when we have 20/20 vision,” Kirkland said. “Once I learned from Tasha to go from moment to moment as an actress and not to judge the character it was important for me to just be in the moment and as difficult as it was I felt it was important to make that sacrifice.”
With being abused on the set when playing her character, Kirkland thanked the cast for refraining after scenes were shot to help her get through an acting experience she felt was draining. Even so, Kirkland is glad she came on board.
“If I didn’t take the time out to come on board and tell this story, then somebody else would have; but I don’t know if they would have the same passion as I have for our women and be able to deliver and tap in as an actress…to tell the story as it actually happens,” Kirkland said.
Gross as Dino
Typically playing characters that coincide with his real life personality, Gross in this film plays his first dark character.
“The way he play Dino make you wanna call on Jesus,” Smith said. “He’s so evil.”
Having an opportunity to portray a villain was a challenge Gross wanted to experience but was often overlooked when it came to those roles, Gross said.
“It was something that I never stepped into. You know me as a nice guy,” he said. “This was something that I was really intrigued by…I’ve always wanted to play the villain.”
When close friend Smith gave him the call, he knew he had a director that would be in full support of him making this transition. Not only did he go to a lot of strip clubs to get a glimpse of this character but he reached out to people he knew, having grown up in Oakland, California, who were very similar to Dino.
There was one person in particular that motivated him to help tell this story.
“I have a daughter myself and it just made me know that I needed to go home and love my daughter to the best of my ability,” Gross said.
Tami Roman as Stacey
After reading the script Roman noticed Falicia’s problems were stemming from a generational curse. Acknowledging herself as a mother as someone who’s very “hands-on,” the first thing she noticed was she needed to separate herself from Stacey.
Noticing this made her realized that there are many mothers like Stacey around.
“This is really happening in households,” Roman said. “Stacey [is] a mom who was young who had a child who now has to make decisions for that child but doesn’t really understand how to make decisions for herself. And that’s prevalent, right now today.”
Holding parents accountable is takeaway from this film, says Roman, because decisions parents make effects the children. The most important thing for a parent is be “available” for their children,” says Roman.
Importance of Black Narratives told by Black Outlets
Having an outlet to tell these stories such as TV One is must which is why people should should support black media outlets, TV One’s NewsOne Now Host and Managing Editor Roland Martin explained.
“If we do not have black owned media we literally will be begging someone else to tell our own stories,” Martin said. “You will not have movies like this made on other networks.”
“When Love Kills: The Falicia Blakely Story” premieres 9/8 Central August 28 on TV One.
By Gino Terrell