Shamier Anderson, Adan Canto, Stephen McKinley Henderson and Sheila Atim also star in the film, which chronicles Jackie Justice, a "disgraced MMA fighter who has failed at the one thing she’s ever been good at – fighting. When 6-year-old Manny, the son she walked out on years ago, returns to her doorstep, Jackie has to conquer her demons, face one of the fiercest rising stars of the MMA world and ultimately fight to become the mother this kid deserves."
Talking about why she wanted this film to be the project she made her director's debut with, she told us she's always been a "huge fight fan from English boxing" when she was little to "then being a really big MMA fan."
"I was following the UFC, MMA and Invicta, Strikeforce for years before this script sat down on me," she said. "And when it did, right away, I was in inspired by it and ignited about it because it's a world that I love so much. It's a sport that I follow [and] that I'm passionate about. Every Saturday night I was watching a fight of some sort. So this gave me a great opportunity to tell a story about a sport that I love and a genre that's always been winning. The fight game is always winning for me...these underdog, feel good stories. I think we as people always can see ourselves reflected in these stories. So it was a winning combination for me."
In playing Jackie Justice, Berry said that she learned more about her own strength -- that she's strong than she ever knew she was.
"I have the power to make up my mind to do something and that I actually have the fortitude to see it through," she continued. "And these are things that you don't really know to be true about yourself. I think we think we would be the kind of person to work really hard and see something through and when things got harder, you would just get stronger. It's easy to say, but I got to prove to myself that I'm actually made up of that. And that's a really good feeling for better or for worse, whatever anybody thinks about the film, I did it, I made it. I made my way through it on my own terms."
Aside from the film itself, Bruised and Berry accomplished a historic feat with the film, producing the first all-women hip-hop soundtrack. It was something she didn't realize had never happened before. She executive produced the album with Cardi B.
"I think as Black women, Black people, we have to uplift one another, especially Black women," she explained. "We are in my mind on the bottom of the rung so it's really important that we join forces and we support one another and we uplift each other. And so bringing Cardi on board to do the soundtrack, I didn't realize there had never been an all female hip hop album. I'm thinking, 'How can this be? How has this never happened?' And I thought, 'Well, s**t, I'm going to do this.' Like, this is really important. And when Cardi said yes, and then we were off to the races, and I think it's a beautiful soundtrack for this movie because it very much accompanies the world that I've created. It's an authentic, true world and this music sort of lends that authenticity to it."
Ultimately, she believes this universal story that the film depicts can resonate with a lot of people
Watch the interview with Berry below, as well as chats with co-stars Atim and Valentina Shevchenko: