Dave Leonard, NBC5 Street Team, (Video)
I recently got to talk to Vanessa Simmons ( of MTV’s “Run’s House”, “Daddy’s Girls”), Wesley Jonathan (“What I Like About You”, “Roll Bounce”) and producers La Monde Byrd and native Chicagoan, Mekita Faiye (who also plays one of the lead characters) about their hilarious new comedy “Speed-Dating: The Movie” which will be released in the coming months. Check out what they had to say…
DL: Tell us about the “SPEED-DATING” movie and the great ensemble cast you’ve put together…
MEKITA: Oh wow, “SPEED-DATING” will be the must-see movie of 2010! It’s about these three guys who come up with this scheme that involves speed dating to raise money for their club and to meet women. It’s kind of like “Wedding Crashers” and it takes you on a wonderful journey with a lot of laughs along the way. The cast includes Wesley Jonathan, Chico Benymon who many know from the show “Half & Half”, Leonard Robinson of MTV’s “Wild’n’Out”…we have Vanessa Simmons, of course, from “Run’s House”, Emmy award winner Chris Elliott, Holly Robinson-Peete, Clint Howard (brother of Ron Howard) who was recently in “Night At The Museum 2”, rapper Chingy, Kelly Perrine…the list goes on and on.
DL: Where did you come up with the concept for the film?
LA MONDE: The writer and director Joseph Elmore originally came up with the idea and from there we took it, shaped it, developed it a bit and then the actors breathed life into it.
DL: Wesley, you play the lead character “TOO COOL” in this film and your career spans decades in film and television, what attracted you to this project?
WESLEY: I just read the script and it was funny to me. I originally wasn’t the first choice to play “Too Cool”, but time had passed and the project sort of came back around to me and I also found out that Chico and some my partners from the business were in it so that was an added plus because I like working with my friends.
DL: Vanessa, we got to see on the “Daddy’s Girls” show that you prepared for your role by going on an actual speed dating event. What was that experience like?
VANESSA: Oh man, I had a lot of fun! I like a lot of hands on experience to prepare for roles that I’m doing, so the fact that I got to go on an actual speed dating event for the first time was actually kind of fun, but weird at the same time because the guys thought they were going to go on a real date afterwards.
DL: The “TOO COOL” character was a bit of a ladies man/womanizer…were there any real life “players” you drew from to develop this character?
"Too Cool" (Wesley Jonathan) meets "Kiki" (Camille Mana) in "Speed-Dating"
WESLEY: Nah, not really. I was able to play this guy pretty straightforward because he was just being cool. In films like “Roll Bounce” and other projects I’ve worked on, I’ve definitely borrowed from other characters. I did get to adlib and improv and be silly during the filming of some of the speed dating scenes.
DL: Vanessa, ironically your character ELIZABETH is the “church-going” girl who gets involved with the DOG character played by Chico Benymon. Everyone knows your real-life Dad is the legendary Rev. Run of Run D.M.C. , so do guys get intimidated by you having the “preacher’s kid” stigma?
VANESSA: Unfortunately, yes! I’m like, listen guys, if I love you and I like you and I’m bringing you home, my Dad’s gonna give you that benefit, I think, until I turn my back…so I’ve heard. I just usually have to prepare guys when they meet him, but he’s a Dad like any other Dad. As far as Elizabeth, I like the character a lot and can relate to her in a lot of ways because she’s the good girl and she’s not doing the crazy things the rest of the girls are doing.
DL: Mekita, you did double duty in this movie as Wesley’s love interest and producer for the movie. Were you nervous going into your first starring role and wearing hat as producer?
MEKITA: It’s funny you ask that. It was definitely a challenge and I look back on it amazed at how I got through it, but I owe that part to God.
DL: What’s next for everybody?
WESLEY: I’m in a new movie coming soon called “The Obama Effect” directed by Charles Dutton and another called “B-Girl” and I’m currently working on a new project “Four to the Floor” with Evan Ross.
VANESSA: As you know my sister [Angela] and I have the Pastry clothing line which is doing very well and we’re expanding right now and couldn’t be happier. “Daddy’s Girls” is in its second season and Vanessa’s making her way around Hollywood and has some upcoming projects on the horizon.
LA MONDE: Stay tuned for “SPEED-DATING” to be released soon. This film is testing well with men AND women in the preliminary screenings and I think we have an incredible project on our hands. I’ve got to give a quick thanks to Blacksingles.com and HurryDate.com as well!
To check out the trailer and find out more regarding “Speed-Dating: The Movie” you can go to www.speed-datingmovie.com
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