Melanie Nicholls-King, who currently resides in the Williamsbridge Community, is a featured actress in the Hip-Hop, dance released film, slated for nationwide release on Friday, January 25.
How She Moves follows the life of an ambitious teen, Raya, who is an aspiring medical student attending a prestigious school far from “the hood” she grew up in. But when he drug addicted sister dies and the tuition money is no longer available, Raya must return to her home and deal with the tragedy while running into familiar faces, some for the good and some with dramatic ties to her past.
Nicholls-King plays Faye, the mother who wants a better life for Raya, but when her daughter decides to enter the competitive world of step dancing, as a way to earn money to get back to school, Faye tries to put a stop to her child’s dreams.
According to Nicholls-King, Faye dances symbolically, following her own rhythms and discovering that in order for her to do the dance of life, she must first accept the dance of death. She realizes that her daughter must choose her own path, and similar to Nicholls-King’s life, her parents had to let her ‘go for her dreams’ as well.
Nicholls-King, a first generation Canadian and the daughter of Trinidadian parents, understands her character’s motivation and sacrifice to give her daughter what she never had.
“The mother in the film is so much my mother,” Nicholls-King said. “She came from Trinidad to Toronto and had big dreams for her children. She sacrificed so much.”
But in a twist, Nicholls-King, who is most known to American audiences for her role as Cheryl in The Wire, feels a connection to Raya. “I am definitely more like the daughter,” she confirms.
Asa child, Nicholls-King first discovered her love for acting in a stage production of The Wizard of Oz. “They asked me to sing and I sang Happy Birthday,” Nicholls-King laughs. “I was cast as the Wicked Witch. It was much more fun being evil.”
But as a wiz in school, Nicholls-King’s parents insisted that she include science and math in her curriculum with hopes that Nicholls-King, too, would go into the medical field.
Nicholls-King, who hopes to continue acting in stage productions while possibly producing for stage and film in the future, had to disobey their wishes, somewhat.
“I did not have to leave school,” she said. “I just had to focus on what I wanted rather than what my parents expected me to do. Yes, mom, I appreciate all these things you did for me, but this is my life and I have to live it.”
Following her dreams led Nicholls-King to the Bronx eight years ago. Of course, meeting her husband, a Bronxite, in Toronto, also helped. Since coming to the borough, just a stone’s throw away from the City that will serve Nicholls-King’s aspirations well, the actress has become a Bronx ambassador.
“I love the serenity of where I live,” she said. “The Bronx has this great peace to it. I have a backyard and a neighborhood feel. I love that, and I think people are sleeping on the Bronx. How can you be in New York and never come to the Bronx. There is also a Caribbean element here and I feel like I am doing my part for both the borough, and my people. They are finally getting to see themselves represented in a positive way.”
Nicholls-King believes How She Move, which is also being promoted by MTV and BET and was part of a bidding war after first being screened at Sundance, is all about the positive. A great soundtrack and amazing choreography aside, the film contains inspired acting more often than not and goes about delivering its message without the stereotypical and almost clichéd approach often seen in films of the same ilk.
“The theme of the film is to follow your heart – it’s your pathway to yourself,” she said. “Go for your dreams, but make sure they’re your dreams and not someone else’s. It’s the challenge in life that show us who we really are. Parents, we can only show our children the way, we can’t make them choose our way.”
©2008 Community News Group