Filmmaker Brews a Sense of Community in Independent Film

Monday, 13 January 2014 17:37 Written by  Iya Bakare

Black Coffee is playing in select AMC Theaters in Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore and Washington D.C. until Jan. 16.

In the midst of this winter season, one could probably use a break from the arctic chill in the air. Black Coffee, starring Darrin Dewitt Henson (Soul Food, Stomp the Yard), Gabrielle Dennis (The Game), Chicago native Erica Hubbard (Let’s Stay Together), Lamman Rucker (Why Did I Get Married?), Christian Keyes (Let’s Stay Together) and Chicago native Richard Gallion is sure to warm the hearts of movie-goers. Written and directed by Chicago native Mark Harris, the film tells the story of a young man whose life suddenly changes after the loss of a job and a long-term relationship with his girlfriend, portrayed by Erica Hubbard.

“We find ourselves in situations that aren’t funny and are uncomfortable, but we can laugh about them,” Darrin comments. “Robert is a blue-collar worker – he’s a painter who worked for his father, wanted to work hard and have a great relationship. This movie is about taking responsibility of one’s life and about seasons in life. We get stuck in our seasons and life tells you it’s time for you to grow.”

“I wanted to write a film about love and self-sufficiency in the black community,” Mark says, about what inspired the concept of the movie. “I want to show how we can pull our resources together to make a future for ourselves and family.”

As the romantic comedy unfolds, Darrin says the characters show human traits people can relate to.

“People will see themselves in all of the characters,” he adds. “I’ve been all of these characters at some point in time.”

Gabrielle’s character, Morgan, finds herself at a crossroad, which draws her to Robert. In the movie, Morgan must deal with decisions about her career and her relationship with her ex-husband, played by Lamman Rucker. The film shows how the forces of nature bring Robert and Morgan together and threaten to break them apart based on both of their circumstances – in love and in their careers.

“She [Morgan] is in a very confusing place in her life, as far as who she is in her relationship and where she is in her career,” Gabrielle comments.

Both of the lead characters say the film is written well because we’re in a time when many people today face that career decision of whether or not to pursue entrepreneurship. With the themes of entrepreneurship, love, purpose and the sense of community, the filmmaker brilliantly added humor with the character of Robert’s friend, played by Christian Keyes.

The dramedy’s characters also shed positive lights on what’s not commonly depicted about our community, not just in this country, but on an international scale, Mark says.

“I want people to be inspired when they see this film and see how pulling resources together can help us to build our communities, and love will come back,” Mark comments. “We can build our communities, which can eliminate self-hate and violence.”

“I like that Morgan is portrayed as a professional and entrepreneur, which is a great blueprint for us,” Gabrielle says. “In the characters I portray and projects I am involved in, I’m always rooting for the overall betterment of women.”

With the aroma of love brewing throughout the story, Gabrielle and Darrin say it’s difficult to watch the movie and not reflect on your purpose in life. As actors in the film, they internalized it as well.

“I learned about finding my path and staying on course,” Gabrielle says. “It’s about not appeasing people, but about doing what’s best for me. It’s about believing in your purpose, accepting it and going for it. That’s true happiness.”

“I want people to ask, ‘What is my end result?’” Darrin adds. “I always say, come as you are and don’t stay as you are. Whether it’s a job, relationship or a thought pattern, I want people to say, ‘I need to change my setting in order for my life to change.’ I’ve been a fool and a wise man. There’s a difference between handing someone a glass of water and throwing someone a bottle of water. I learned the difference.”


Get Connected:

Follow Mark Harris at @1555FILMWORKS

Follow Darrin Dewitt Henson at @mrdhen

Follow Gabrielle Dennis at @GabrielleDennis

Follow Erica Hubbard at @EricaHubbard

Follow Lamman Rucker at @LammanRucker

Follow Christian Keyes at @ChristianKeyes

Follow Richard Gallion at @richgallion

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare, GMO's managing editor, earned both her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in print journalism. She earned her B.A. from Delta State University with a minor in English and graduated with a M.A. degree from Columbia College Chicago. In her spare time, the Chicago native continues to freelance and ponder ways to both inform and improve her community one story at a time.

She can be contacted at
Follow her on Twitter: @ibakare


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