DeWanda Wise and Lil Rel Howery on the importance of ‘Fatherhood’

Wise and Howery, who appear alongside Kevin Hart in the Netflix movie, discuss which stereotypes they believe “Fatherhood” successfully debunks about Black fathers

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DeWanda Wise and Lil Rel Howery are opening up about breaking down stereotypes in the new Netflix film Fatherhood, which they appear in alongside Kevin Hart.

The movie is based on the 2011 book “Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love,” which is the true story of Matthew Logelin, who unexpectedly lost his wife shortly after she gave birth.

Hart plays the lead role and Melody Hurd (Them) is playing his daughter. What makes the movie even more unique than the color-blind casting is the commitment to ensuring the Black father is depicted in a positive way.

DeWanda Wise attends the “The Apollo” screening on April 24, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Wise and Howery sat down with theGrio’s Chris Witherspoon to discuss which stereotypes they believe Fatherhood successfully debunks about Black fathers. Wise said the film allows the Black father to be “vulnerable,” which she believes is something that isn’t regularly shown in a Black male lead.

Describing Hart and his role as Matthew Logelin in the movie, Wise said, “I would just say that, I feel like so much of it in the process of being like ‘look, no, I’m not perfect. I do not have it all figured out, but I’m going to in a way that’s out loud and present and not trying to be this kind of stringent construct of what it means to be a strong father for my kid.’ I think it’s so important to see that.”

theGrio’s D’Shonda Brown spoke with Wise in February and learned more about the great importance behind her role.

She explained, “My character, Swan, is a light. She represents healing, what it means to not just move through grief and tragedy but to be present in the process of it.”

The She’s Gotta Have It actress revealed that playing the character also meant something to her personally.

“That kind of healing energy and Black folk joy is just part of what I desperately need to see and feel right now. Usually, I gravitate towards things that I’m hungry for. I just assumed that other people are too, but really it just comes from saying, ‘I wanna see that,’ so let me help bring it to life.”

As for Howery, he believed the film did well with showing Black men express their emotions. The 41-year-old plays Jordan, who is Logelin’s best friend in the film. He says getting the opportunity to be emotional is what made him love his character more.

He said, “the friendship that Jordan and Matt have, is [one] we don’t see a lot of times. Especially a Black man on screen like this showing emotion. Emotionally, being there for each other.”

Actor/comedian Lil Rel Howery attends the screening of HBO’s “Lil Rel Howery: Live In Crenshaw” on Nov. 21, 2019. (Photo by JC Olivera/Getty Images)

The Get Out actor went on to praise the movie for representing “Black fathers that truly actually exist that people don’t know exist. and we don’t just do that on screen. And it was such a beautiful piece.”

Crediting his co-star, he said, “Kevin brought it up, he really did.”

Despite being known best for his comic roles, Howery, surprisingly, prefers to be in drama films rather than comedy. Why? Because according to him, he enjoys “breaking the tension.”

He went on to give props to Fatherhood director Paul Weitz for allowing the cast to improvise.

“Because some of the stuff, we was kind of just playing around with it,” Howery said.

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