Meagan Good, Niles Fitch say ‘If Not Now, When?’ speaks to power of Black storytelling
EXCLUSIVE: The actress and 'This Is Us' star are dishing on Good's star-studded directorial debut
Meagan Good is a veteran actress with a 25-year career in the industry, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t nervous about her directorial debut.
The Shazam! star, 39, told theGrio exclusively that she needed a clear sign from a higher power to direct If Not Now, When?, a female-focused drama in which she also stars.
“[Co-director] Tamara [Bass] and I have known each other since we were 16 and 19,” Good explained. “We were in the process of waiting for the money to go to the bank [to finance the film]. Me and Tam had kicked around the idea before of directing, and Tam was like, ‘You know, we think should we go for it.’ I was like, ‘Let me pray about it.'”
She continued, “I prayed about it for two months and really just waited until I heard from God on it, and then kind of came back around. I said, ‘Lord, if I’m doing the right thing, I need you to give me a sign.’ So I met up with Tamara, I said, ‘Listen, I talked to God in obedience. I think we should direct this together.’ Then eight minutes later, the bank called. The money just dropped, and I was like, ‘Okay, Lord.'”
Good and Bass’ blessing paid off. The ladies came together to create a powerful film that tells the story of Tyra (Good), a career woman who has to overcome a pill addiction to reconnect with her teen daughter, Jillian (Lexi Underwood), with the help of her friends, Patrice (Bass), Deidre (Megan Holder) and Suzanne (Mekia Cox).
If Not Now, When?, written by Bass, is truly a testament to the power of Black womanhood and a love story dedicated Black female friendships. Good says that direction was a purposeful and influenced by the close friendships in her own life.
“The women that are in my life are just—I feel beyond fortunate. Because I know that I have some relationships where I’m just truly unconditionally loved, truly understood, and they truly have my back,” the actress shared. “I have one or two friends who have literally picked me up from the edge of where I just didn’t even know if I was gonna make it back. For the season that I was in, in life, and the trauma and things that I was working through, so that’s really what I want this film to be.”
She continued, “A reminder of what we have the potential to be to each other. And that is, helpers on this journey of life. I think one of the best things that we can get out of life is great relationships and unconditional love, and people who are our soul mates. In the same sense that I would say my husband, he’s my partner in purpose. I think that you have that in your husband, but you also have that in your girlfriends.”
The drama also tackles motherhood and fertility, a subject close to Good’s heart. The actress told theGrio that she personally related to one character’s struggle with pregnancy, revealing that people consistently questioned her about her own plans for motherhood following her marriage to Hollywood executive DeVon Franklin.
“For a long time, as soon as I got married, everyone was like, ‘When are you going to have kids? When are you going to have kids?’ I wasn’t even sure that I wanted kids,” she explained. “I felt like there’s kind of this attitude of that’s what a woman should want to do. That’s what you’re supposed to be and motherhood is something to aspire to. And I just didn’t quite feel that way and felt like, ‘Am I crazy for feeling this way? Does this make me a bad person?'”
“All those unresolved thoughts that I really didn’t discuss out loud because I didn’t feel that it made be a good person to express that. Even now where I’m at a place like, ‘Yeah, I do. I do want to be a mother.’ I think [for] some women, motherhood is the pinnacle of what they aspire to. I’ve been working since I was 13 years old and [have] a career that I can use to to glorify God and to be useful in the world. To me, that’s the pinnacle of what I desire. I think to be able to explore, how do you get from a place of feeling like you don’t really have a choice to saying, ‘I do have a choice.’ I thought that was a really interesting journey.”
In the film, Good is mother to Lexi, who develops a teenage crush on her dance classmate Michael, played by Niles Fitch. The This Is Us actor opened up to theGrio about working with Good as a director and mentor.
“I feel like being an actor, we’re always having to understand someone else’s experience,” said the 19-year-old star. “When you work with great directors, such as Tamara and Megan, or Ms. Tamara and Ms. Megan, it makes it to where it’s easy to be able to tap into the character that you play.”
“They were very hands on. I think they had a different approach too, because they’ve also been on the other side of the camera and acted before. So being able to work with directors that I feel like understand the actor’s experience is a really cool thing, and a rarity to be able to do it. And with someone that I grew up watching, you know, so that that’s even cooler to me.”
Good also imparted some knowledge about “staying true to yourself,” a challenge for any teen, but particularly difficult for child stars in Hollywood.
“I talked to not only her, but her mom also,” Fitch said. “How there were roles that she turned down because it would go against her character. To me, that’s a beautiful thing, because many people can lose themselves in trying to achieve this thing that we call notoriety or success. To meet somebody and know that they have been where I’ve been, and they were able to stay on this straight path, through faith and their family, that’s a very beautiful thing. Because that’s what I hope that I can do.”
If Not Now, When? is available in theaters and on demand from online digital stores.
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