Sean Patrick Thomas opens up about ‘Till’

PASADENA (News4usonline) – It’s Oscars week, and the buzz is swirling around the nominations. However, there is a lot of noise going on around some works that have been skipped for any kind of consideration. 

Perhaps no other body of work got a notable snub from the Academy Awards than “Till,” which tells the story on the big screen about the brutal kidnapping and murder of Black teenager Emmett Till

(L to R) Jalyn Hall as Emmett Till and Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie Till Mobley in TILL, directed by Chinonye Chukwu, released by Orion Pictures. Credit: Lynsey Weatherspoon / Orion Pictures

“Till,” directed by Chinonye Chukwu, brings to life the awful abduction and horrendous killing of the 14-year-old Chicago youth at the hands of white supremacists in 1955. After his death, his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, played wonderfully by Danielle Deadwyler, went on a national crusade to speak on her son’s murder. 

Neither Chukwu nor Deadwyler received Oscar nominations for their work on the film. For that matter, neither did anyone else. The overlook got under the skin of Chukwu, who vented some form of frustration on Instagram. 

“We live in a world and work in industries that are so aggressively committed to upholding whiteness and perpetuating an unabashed misogyny towards Black women,” Chukwu wrote. “And yet.I am forever in gratitude for the greatest lesson of my life – regardless of any challenges or obstacles, I will always have the power to cultivate my own joy, and it is this joy that will continue to be one of my greatest forms of resistance.”      

That wasn’t the story at the 54th NAACP Image Awards. “Till” received nominations in the Outstanding Motion Picture, Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture, and Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture categories. 

(L to R) Whoopi Goldberg as Alma Carthan and Danielle Deadwyler as Mamie Till Mobley in TILL, directed by Chinonye Chukwu, released by Orion Pictures. Credit: Lynsey Weatherspoon / Orion Pictures

Jalyn Hall, who plays the role of the young and naive Till, was tapped for an NAACP Image Award in the Outstanding Breakthrough Performance in a Motion Picture section. The murder of Emmett Till, along with the Rosa Parks bus episode in Montgomery, Alabama, served as the caveats that helped spur the Civil Rights Movement into being. 

One of the more understated forces behind the scenes assisting Mamie Till-Mobley in her call to action against her son’s white murderers and the racism that permeated his death was her partner and later husband, Gene Mobley Jr. 

In “Till,” Mobley, played by Sean Patrick Thomas, is seen as the quiet force behind his companion’s strength. Thomas, who stars in the show, “Reasonable Doubt,” and has a wide body of work as an actor, including being an integral part of the “Barbershop” film series and collaborating with Denzel Washington in “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” says “Till” is an important story to tell. 

“I’m very excited to be part of Till,” Thomas said while attending the 54th NAACP Image Awards in Pasadena, California. “We have a time right now where there are many people around the country that are trying to dismiss our past as Black people, dismiss our history, trying to rewrite our history, trying to act like things that are really sick about how this country is, systemically…trying to act like they are not there.”

“Till” star Sean Patrick Thomas (right) and his wife, Aonika Laurent, attend the 54th NAACP Image Awards that took place at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Feb.25, 2023. Photo by Mark Hammond for News4usonline

While his film credits are very noteworthy (Save the Last Dance, Halloween: Resurrection), Thomas brings grit and depth to his characters with his theatre background (A Raisin in the Sun, Much Ado About Nothing). Those cadences as a stage actor are what allow Thomas to give audiences a feel of who the man was behind Till-Mobley. 

Thomas says that “Till” is a portrait of the racist construct and ostracization Black people have always had to deal with.

“Till is a powerful reminder of what is going on now, what was going on then and what has always been going on, in terms of how Black people are treated in this country,” Thomas remarked. 

Attending the 2023 NAACP Image Awards with his wife, Aonika Laurent, Thomas went on to say that he joined the “Till” project because he felt like it was his way of trying to advance equality.   

“I feel like it’s important because I feel like we all need to do our part to make sure that Black people get equal treatment under the law in this country,” Thomas said. “We have a consistent process in this country, especially with Black people, of double standards.” 

Thomas continued, “And I think that all of us as Black people need to be aware of these double standards and we have to call them out wherever and whenever we see it. For me, through my work, and through a movie like Till, that’s my way of doing that.”

Featured Image Caption: Sean Patrick Thomas (left) as Gene Mobley and Danielle Deadwyler (left) as Mamie Till Mobley in TILL, directed by Chinonye Chukwu, released by Orion Pictures. Credit: Lynsey Weatherspoon / Orion Pictures

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