As well as sitting down with Aml Ameen, we were lucky enough to get some time with rising star Shantol Jackson, who is making her big screen debut with her role in Yardie. She shared her thoughts on the reception of the movie, and the obstacles involved when making a film as ambitious as Yardie.
What sort of pressures come with starring in Idris Elba’s debut as a director?
I wouldn’t call it pressure. I’d say there is a certain expectation I have of myself and expectations people have of me in terms of delivering a great performance and also wanting to represent Idris’ name and reputation well.
Idris said he wanted “to put a different lens on Jamaica and Jamaican culture”, why do you think that is so important?
It’s important because we tend to see Jamaica and Jamaican films depicted a certain way. The stereotypical gangster, zinc fence mentality. Even though this is a gangster film, the cinematography focuses on the beauty of the landscape.
D grew up on a beautiful island amongst beautiful people. Idris also humanized the characters which was refreshing to see and experience. Yes it’s a gangster film but it’s also a love story with rich music.
How did you ensure you conveyed the culture authentically?
Well, Idris wanted the film to be as authentic as possible and so in rehearsals he’d ask my opinion on the language or the mannerisms and he’d somewhat adjust it to what we are accustomed to saying or doing in Jamaica. I genuinely appreciated that. The effort to stay as true to the culture as possible.
The novel the film is adapted from was seen as a somewhat of a turning point in British black literature. Do you believe the film could have a similar impact?
Definitely. The film has a strong Black leading cast. Which I believe is already meaningful and then the characters are so humanized. It’s not the stereotypical way in which Black people are represented on screen. We see a beautiful black family and a love story. I think the film will definitely contribute to changing the narrative.
Similarly, black British actors have said before that in order to get roles you have to go stateside. Is this new film with a British director and British cast perhaps a sign that things are getting better?
I sure hope so. These are exciting times. People are more vocal now and willing to step outside the box. Who know’s what’s going to happen next.
What challenges did you face whilst filming Yardie and how did you overcome them?
There weren’t much challenges really. The cast and crew and producers all knew what was expected and things ran pretty smoothly. I’d say my only challenge was having to prepare myself mentality for the intimate scene. I’ve never done a scene like that before and I was extremely nervous, shy and not very confident. But Idris and Aml really guided me, and tried to make me as comfortable as possible.
Yardie drops this Friday nationwide, if you missed our interview with the other star of the show Aml Ameen, be sure to check that out right here on GRM Daily.
Music is a big part of the film, the original soundtrack has some of Reggae’s biggest stars from the last two decades featuring on it with the likes of Black Uhuru, Dennis Brown and Skip Marley. Check out the soundtrack in full below: