Written by | Ray Cornelius
Hollywood came out to Morehouse College Tuesday night as the FOX HBCU Alliance hosted a special episode screening of FX’s hugely popular series “The People v. O.J. Simpson.” The event took place at the Bank of America Auditorium and was presented in conjunction with the college’s Cinema, Television & Emerging Media Studies Program (CTEMS).
The evening started with the commercial-less screening followed by a post Q&A session featuring Academy award-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr, who portrays O.J. Simpson, Sterling K. Brown, who stars as prosecuting attorney Christopher Darden and the episode’s director John Singleton. The guys were also joined by Spelman College’s Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall and CTEM’s Director Dr. Stephanie Dunn, who also served as the evening’s moderator.
“The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” is a limited series that takes viewers inside the infamous O.J. Simpson trial with a riveting look at the legal teams battling to convict or acquit the football legend for the murders of Ronald “Ron” Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson. The series is based on the book The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson by Jeffrey Toobin and explores the chaotic behind-the-scenes dealings and maneuvering on both sides of the court. It features an all-star cast including John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, Sarah Paulson as Marcia Clark and Courtney B. Vance as Johnnie Cochran.
During the first half of the discussion, the panelists talked about the global impact the trial had on race, gender, and popular culture. The second half the actor’s opened up about how they prepared for their respective roles. For Cuba Gooding Jr., he made a conscience decision not to meet or talk with Simpson before shooting the series.
“I’m not playing the ‘him’ of today because I know what incarceration does to a man. I’ve had friends and family members who have been incarcerated and I didn’t want that to creep into the psyche of my performance” said Gooding Jr.
Sterling K. Brown also talked to the mostly student audience about his approach to the role of prosecuting attorney Christopher Darden. He claims that his perception of Darden changed after reading his book, “In Contempt,” and helped to “humanized” a man who was once perceived as an “Uncle Tom” and a “Sell Out” to the Black community during the trials.
“You can’t play somebody and judge them at the same time. You have to be able to understand their journey whether you like them or you don’t like them. You also have to be able to understand them and be able to communicate what they were trying to do,” said Brown.
Singleton, who is best known for directing such iconic films as “Boyz in the Hood,” “Poetic Justice,” “Baby Boy,” and “Higher Learning,” was thrilled at the opportunity to work on this particular episode of the series and was told by the show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, to “bring it.”
“I got this job because I was joking around with Ryan Murphy and was telling him, ‘You gotta come real, You gotta come real.'” He also told Murphy that he wanted to be apart of the series because he knew it would “get people talking and have them all hot and bothered.”
Following the Q&A, they panelists took selfies and signed autographs.
Check out a few more pictures below:
John Singleton and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Sterling K. Brown
Dr. Beverly Guy-Sheftall
Cuba Gooding Jr. taking “selfies” with students
Sterling K. Brown talking to an aspiring filmmaker
Cuba Gooding Jr. with “Martin” actor Tommy Ford
Photo Credits: RayCornelius.com