The Disney+ original film Safety is out this weekend and it chronicles a real-life-based story of a former NFL player who played college football at Clemson. The football movie, from Walt Disney Studios, is directed by Reginald Hudlin.
The logline: Inspired by the empowering true story of former Clemson University football safety Ray McElrathbey, a young man facing a series of challenging circumstances, whose dedication and persistence help him to triumph over repeated adversities. Aided by his teammates and the Clemson community, he succeeds on the field while simultaneously raising and caring for his 11-year-old brother Fahmarr.
All American‘s Jay Reeves stars in the film as McElrathbey, alongside newcomer Thaddeus J. Mixon as Fahmarr. Corrine Foxx, Matthew Glave, Hunter Sansone, Amanda Warren, Miles Burris, Isaac Bell, Elijah Bell and James Badge Dale also star.
Sitting down with Shadow and Act ahead of the film’s premiere, Reeves described the moment. that he learned he’d been cast in the film.
“I was chilling at a fast-food restaurant, Wendy’s to be exact, with my other actor friends,” he explained. “And I remember getting this email and I just dropped everything…the food…everything [laughs]. I left. They text me like, ‘Yo, where are you going?’ And I’m like, ‘I gotta prepare for this role.’ It’s not very often we get a script that’s so rich and so full of different colors and emotions for an actor. So, I knew reading the story and looking up Ray that I needed to portray this role. And I was lucky enough to.”
When diving into the character, Reeves says he was able to connect with this real-life person because they were similar in a lot of ways.
“Ray is a lot like me in a lot of ways. If anything, I feel like we’re headed in the same direction in terms of work ethic,” Reeves said. “He works a lot harder than me though [laughs], so I can say I’m in the same direction, but not necessarily on the same level. And also just everyday struggles of being a Black man just in this world and how we have to overcome. Just like Ray didn’t grow up with a father, my dad came out through the latter half of my life, but in the early stages, I had to figure it out. Luckily, I was able to refurbish that relationship. Not everyone is that lucky when they get a strong support system like that all the time and I’m so grateful for my father. So in some certain ways, we’re different like that. He grew up in a different household, where he had to be the man all the time, especially going through college. Ray’s a very smart man though. So [with] everything he did, I’m not surprised at all.”
You can watch the full interview below, via Shadow and Act Live, at the 18:52 mark: