By Charles Hallman
The first of a four-part series that takes a look at Black women in the movie industry
Go For Sisters, a John Sayles movie, made its local debut in Minneapolis December 13 at Landmark Theatres’ Lagoon Cinema. The film is currently scheduled to run for one week only.
The 122-minute film (which is unrated, but not recommended for persons under 15 due to violence, drug scenes and strong language) is about two women, once friends growing up who then grew apart. They reunite after 20 years to find a missing son, with the help of an ex-police detective.
Sayles said in his director’s statement, “I usually don’t write screenplays with specific actors in mind. But even as I started writing on this project I knew who I wanted the three leads to be, and was fortunate enough to get them to do the movie.”
Go For Sisters stars LisaGay Hamilton as Bernice, Yolanda Ross as Fontayne, and Edward James Olmos as Freddy Suarez. The film also stars Harold Perrineau (The Best Man, and The Best Man Holiday), Isaiah Washington, and Hector Elizondo.
Hamilton and Ross, in separate phone interviews, both spoke to the MSR. It was their first project working together.
“I got really, really lucky,” says Hamilton. “As an actor in each and every project you work on, you’re thrust with strangers. Sometimes you get really, really lucky and sometimes you don’t. She and I personally hit it off quite well, and [already] had a great deal of respect for each other — we naturally didn’t have to work at that.
Ross added that the two women first met at a pre-shooting party: “We got along very well. LisaGay and I looked out for each other,” she recalls. “He (Sayles) knows what kind of actors he’s hiring. We as actors are very familiar with his work, his writing and how his movies are done.”
“It was actually quite comfortable, enjoyable and left me hungry for more. I would like to work with Yolanda [again],” says Hamilton, who co-starred for seven years in ABC’s The Practice and two years in Men of a Certain Age on TBS.
“I hope [viewers] enjoy it and appreciate sitting through a classis John Sayles film, and [that it] symbolically has three people of color starring in his film,” she surmised. “It’s wonderful to see these two women’s friendship. It’s not muddled down in stereotypes or negative images. These are full-forged, well-rounded human beings.”
“I hope people will see [the two female lead characters] as two friends… a loving portrait of friendship that has evolved from childhood to adult and respecting each other’s differences,” concludes Ross, who currently stars in HBO’s Treme.
Next: A conversation with LisaGay Hamilton
Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org