NETWORK: Urban Movie Channel
DATE: Thursday, July 30th – Available to stream at any time after 12 pm ET
CAST: Mya Harrison (Mina Kennedy), Gary Sturgis (Odell “Blue” Davis ), Carl Anthony Payne II (Councilman Kendrick Davis), Omar Gooding (Commander Robert
Kennedy ), Reginald T. Dorsey (Police Chief Lewis ), Carter Redwood (Ray Ray Kennedy ) and Chris O’Neal (Bam Stone)
SEASON 2 SYNOPSIS:
As Blue and Mina await the birth of their first child together, the lovers are haunted by ghosts and relationships from their checkered pasts. Mina’s brother-in-law, Police Commander Robert Kennedy, is trying to mentally recover from the events of a failed operation that left his partner in a coma. Now under investigation by internal affairs, he turns to friend Councilman Kendrick Davis in a search for answers to solve the mysterious criminal world of the 5th Ward. A new unseen threat follows Councilman Kendrick Davis as he tries to settle into family life. His back is against the wall as his solving the mystery of this unforeseen foe proves to be literally life or death. The star-crossed lovers, Ray Ray Kennedy and Jazmine Tran, find both their families trying to keep them apart. Bam must deal with shocking changes to his life.
WHERE TO STREAM THE SHOW:
UMC (www.UMC.tv) is the platform the show is streaming on. UMC is available everywhere you find streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. On Xfinity go to “On Demand” and search for “Urban Movie Channel” under “networks” then search “5th Ward” on the site.
SEASON 2 SOUNDTRACK:
Available online via Conscious Minds Entertainment
DIRECTOR/SHOWRUNNER GREG CARTER’S QUOTES:
You created the show 5Th Ward. What was the genesis for it that started you developing it as a series? Fifth Ward, the movie was my very first feature film and premiered at SXSW in 1998. The film was well received and later got picked up for cable television distribution, airing on BET Action PPV in 1999 then later being broadcast on Black Starz Encore. The movie eventually got U.S. home video release and was called Boyz in the Ghetto in France. Around that time I wrote a treatment for one season of an dramatic series which would serve as a pre·quel to my first time effort. I got busy doing other projects and it sat on my laptop for nearly twenty years until Bob Johnson and Sylvia George and the UMC family gave me the opportunity to make the Season 1 happen in 2017. It’s funny because actress Junie Hoang played the teenage role of My Hahn in Fifth Ward the movie and now nearly twenty years later she play’s the role of Huong, My Hahn’s mother in 5th Ward the series. Season one did great and the show was renewed for Season 2.
What about the story lent itself to a TV series over a feature? As I envision it each season of the show is one third of three trilogies. Each trilogy (three seasons) essentially tells the coming of age story of each of Mina’s sons, Ray Ray, James and Lil’ T. So basically, I needed the time (nine seasons) to let each of my child actors grow up and come of age in real time. The story of Mina and raising her three sons in Houston’s 5th Ward is somewhat based on my real mom, two brothers and myself. So as it is in my real family life, each boy is born four years apart. In fact, my oldest brother Mell, paints murals and portraits like the James character in the show. My youngest brother, Lee, is a rap artist and vocalist some what like the Ray Ray character and I followed the path to be a filmmaker and writer as the Lil’ T character eventually does. So, again, I needed nine seasons to tell the full story as the Lil’ T character is actually telling it to the viewing audience. A television series was the only practical choice.
Music is important in 5Th Ward, from the powerful opening song to storylines revolving around rap careers and the use of both diegetic and non-diegetic music. Did you intend for the show to have music at its core and why, or was that a choice that evolved after securing talent like Mya, Carter Redwood, Chris O’Neal and Brittany Bullock aka Just Brittany?
As the son of Methodist minister, I learned from my father’s sermons how powerful the ministry of music was to conveying his message during Sunday service. This is why I chose to write the back story of Mina, her children and parents to be woven in the lore of church music and thus meant casting triple threat (act/sing/dance) actors like Mya to pull off demanding lead roles like that of Mina. Dedicated actors like Carter Redwood and Chris O’Neal would both record songs for the show in the studio booth then come to work the next day on set, but for me music is even deeper. Years ago, for poor black folks living in the segregated South, musical expression along with the combination of song, dance and other fine arts was often the only tool of self-expression and political activism. This is why I believe music has the power heal mind, body and soul. To that I challenged Charlie Mac, my music supervisor, and Scott Szabo, my composer, to write and find music that drives the narrative home in Season 1. Adding to that for Season 2, we’re planning great soundtrack album which is being produced by Brandon Franklin-Bey of Conscious Minds Records of Memphis and will be available on all platforms online upon release of the show.
What do you think is the strongest element of the show? Cast diversity and the audacity of faith. There are 14 nationalities/cultures represented in 5th Ward’s main characters as well as six distinct spoken languages and four different religions. My characters in 5th Ward are like real people everywhere, right or wrong, they are the sum of the experiences and decisions that they’ve made during their lifetime. But ultimately, as people, what we have in common is far greater than sum our racial, cultural or religious differences. In that common humanity, we all basically want the same things. To feel safe, be happy and loved and hopefully provide a better life for our children. So whether it’s 5th Ward’s star-crossed lovers, Ray Ray, a good natured black kid who falls in love with Jazmine Tran, daughter of a conservative Vietnamese couple that owns the corner grocery store or to Latino gang leader Carlos as his rival black counterpart Seth, recognize that as in real life, these characters are the hero of their own story, doing what they think is best to defend what they love. It’s one of the reasons I decided to integrate actual interviews with real people from Houston’s 5th Ward at the beginning and end of each episode. You see, I never thought the story of 5th Ward was my story to tell alone, but others too.
Most people live uncomfortably with the fact that secretly, they are a lifetime collection of contradictions, but I do feel that only through faith is it that our humanity can put life into perspective. We are all are part of something bigger, stories can break down walls and spiritually connect us all .
When does season two drop on UMC.TV, and what’s in store for these Mina and the residents of 5th Ward? I’ve had to really raise the stakes for all the main characters after Season 1, so expect lots of big twists and surprises. Hopefully you’ll be like… dang! Why didn’t I see that coming? This all of course is TOP SECRET! LOL.
What advice do you wish you’d gotten earlier in your career? Find a mentor, then find a mentee. Just don’t allow your work to be critiqued by those that think and see the world the way you do. Although it’s tempting to surround yourself with people who love and admire your work, resist this. Early on in your career you don’t want to be the smartest or best in your peer group. You can’t grow that way. Instead try to find a good mentor, hell even a bad mentor who’s career you’d like to follow or not follow. This will help you “sharpen the saw” by learning to recognize the difference between a good choice and a bad choice. Furthermore, having a mentee to teach or pass your knowledge on to will reinforce what you’ve learned.
What is next for you? Developing a romantic comedy and two Christmas scripts with producer Dominique Telson. I’m also acting as showrunner on “A Hip Hop Story” a new dramatic series for the Vyre Network. I’m also
What is your favorite part of creating a TV show? Writing the treatment. Okay that might sound a bit off, but as a showrunner for those brief moments in the creative process, where it’s just me and the characters in my head. Well maybe my flash cards too, but the possibilities are endless and there’s no creative pushback. I also love putting it all together in post with my editor Sean Henderson. Yeah, editing is a definitely a close second.