The loss of someone close is one of the most horrific ordeals one can possibly experience in life. There’s the instant shock of finding out, followed by a moment of grief. Which every person deals with in their own way.  Finally, the reflection phase where one realizes the life lessons learned through the experience.

Featured recently at the Katra Film Series in New York City, Moving On: A Short Film About Grief – written and directed by Nyasha Hatendi – takes a look at the complexities of grief through the story of Steve, played by veteran actor, Elvis Nolasco. On the day of his father’s funeral, Steve receives a call instructing him to go to a diner at a certain time and, through a series of interactions, Steve realizes that this experience may not be as simple as it may seem.

‘LLERO caught up with the film’s lead, Nolasco, to get more insight on Moving On and his role in the film. Nolasco also spoke on celebrating the 25th anniversary of the film that kicked off his film career, I Like It Like That, and what he’s learned from working with directors like Spike Lee.

LLERO: Tell us about Moving On: A Short Film About Grief, and your role in the film.

Elvis Nolasco: Well, it’s a story about grief that came about through my manager, Matt Goldman, because he also represents our writer-director, Nyasha Hatendi, who I believe spoke to our manager about my work, and wanted me to look at the script.

‘LL: What about the script made you connect with it enough to want to take on the role of Steve?

EN: I read the script, and I was like, “Man, this is crazy! This is interesting. I like this.” I had a few conversations with Nyasha, and he wanted to know more about my inner-thoughts about the whole project itself in its entirety. After many conversations with Nyasha, I knew I wanted to be part of the film in one way or another because it was a very good script, and it just spoke to me. I recently lost my older brother, so it just made sense. I knew what [Nyasha] was saying just with the story itself—the character and what the character was going through. So, I said, “Let’s do this,” and that’s how that happened. It’s a short film, but it’s amazing how impactful and how amazing it is how much can be said in 10, 15 minutes. This story is just an amazing piece of work with some amazing people.

‘LL: The film was featured at this year’s Katra Film Series. How did you get involved with the festival?

EN: The film has gotten into a great number of festivals, which says to me that my man did a lot of submissions. I know what that’s like. It’s been really well-received, and it’s because a great visionary took control of this project—in directing it, writing it and editing. It’s just a very beautifully put-together story. It’s gotten honorable mention at a number of festivals. It’s a really cool ride, man.

‘LL: Are you excited that the film is making its rounds in film festivals in your hometown?

EN: Absolutely! It was just at Urban World where my film, Time To Surrender, was last year at this very same time. My film, Time To Surrender, was at Urban World, and to see Nyasha’s film also getting into Urban World, which is such an amazing film festival in my hometown… Then, there’s Katra, and it all feels great! It feels awesome, because I know that it’s going to be viewed by people who have watched my work from the very beginning whether it was on I Like It Like That or Clockers or Episode 999 of Law & Order [laughs]. It’s great to be able to screen it in your hometown. It’s a great feeling. 

‘LL: What is something you hope the audience walks away with after watching the film?

EN: That grieving is a process. It’s a process, and surprisingly enough, while being here on this Earth, we have the opportunity to just live this life. Everybody’s life is lived differently, and what I feel or you may feel or anyone else may feel as a tragic happening a lot of the times we don’t realize that that very thing may be the thing that can probably help us to push through. I’m hoping that people in their own journey can hopefully see the lessons in things, and be able to get to a place of forgiveness, because, at the end of the day, personally, we all deserve a second chance.

 

‘LL: This year, I Like It Like That was celebrated during the New York Latino Film Festival for its 25th anniversary. What thoughts come to mind when you think about how impactful the film was to Latino and NYC culture and the fact that you were a part of that?

EN: When you think about 25 years later, something that came from the South Bronx, something that will forever be stamped as a feature film by an African American woman who was given $5.5 million to make a feature film for a major studio like Columbia Pictures, I think about the Jharrel Jeromes of the world, the Laz Alonsos, the Zoe Saldanas, the Elvis Nolascos and Lauren Velez and Jon Seda and Jesse Borrego and Darnell Martin. What happened 25 years ago is an amazing gift. Even the soundtrack was so groundbreaking. I remember it was the first commercial that had a Latino-urban jingle to it. In so many areas, and in so many ways it was groundbreaking, and it’s still groundbreaking.

When you see people on social media that still say, “Oh, my God, I love that film!” or “I still watch that film.” And, they remember the words and they recite it to you! It’s just so many things that, again when I think of the Jharrel Jeromes and the Afro Latino communities, I just want to say, “Thank you, Darnell Martin.” Thank you, because she opened doors for a lot of us. That reunion was so amazing. It was so much love, and so much recognition.

‘LL: You’ve also worked often with Spike Lee. What’s something you learned from working with Spike Lee?

EN: You learn so much by watching someone like Spike Lee, but you have to really be watching. He’s the first person on the set, the last person sometimes to leave, and he doesn’t miss anything. He catches everything. When you think that he’s not aware of something, he’s aware of it. Another thing is that when he asks you to do something, a lot of the times you’ll be like, “Why am I doing this?” But, then, later on, when you see the final product, you’re like, “Ah, okay.” That’s because he already has that story in his head, so you learn to trust, and you learn to ask questions when it’s appropriate. Sometimes, you just have to trust and go with the flow.

‘LL: Any future projects that you have coming down the line that you’d like our readers to look out for?

EN: Right now, I’m really excited about this show called David Makes Man, which is on the OWN network. I think we’re on episode six or seven, but pretty soon, eight, nine and ten. Also, on September 29, on Epix comes Godfather of Harlem. If you tune into that, you’ll meet Nat Pettigrew who is Elwood Bumpy Johnson’s (played by Forrest Whitaker) right-hand man and nephew. That’s an amazing series by the creators of Narcos, Chris Brancato and Paul Eckstein. And, right now, I’m on the Warner lot working on season two of All American, and that starts airing on October 7th on the CW. Also, I just finished directing my second film, and working on the third one. Shadowing directors like Benny Boom on All American gave me more knowledge and more information. Hopefully, I’ll get to bring my touch to the world of television.

‘LL: What’s some advice that you can offer aspiring actors and/or filmmakers out there?

EN: What I learned throughout the years is to continue to stay true to the three Ps: stay passionate, remain patient, and continue to persevere. Passion, patience and perseverance—that’s the best suggestion that I could give anybody.

About The Author

Emmanuel Ureña

Born to Dominican parents in NYC and raised in Passaic, NJ, in nearly a decade as an entertainment writer, Emmanuel Ureña has written for numerous publications, including VIBE, Latina.com, BET.com, LLERO, Urban Ink, Inked, and many others. When he’s not typing away on his MacBook, Ureña is reading fictional novels and comic books while enjoying ice-cold Blue Moon beers. You might also find him at a local tattoo shop getting some fresh ink!

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