With appearances in Knives Out, Sorry to Bother You, and the FX Network series “Atlanta,” LaKeith Stanfield is emerging as one of Hollywood’s top leading men.
Stanfield stars as Michael Block in the Universal Pictures romance film The Photograph. which hit theaters on Valentine’s Day with a soul-stirring and passionate performance, Stanfield reveals a side of Black love rarely captured — the confusion and vulnerability men experience with a new love.
Ahead of the release, rolling out spoke to Stanfield regarding the balance between masculinity and emotion, Black love on display and more.
Black men are now encouraged to show their emotion and feelings without their masculinity being questioned. How does The Photograph fit into that?
I know it’s definitely a vehicle for [those emotions]. I think that’s amazing and I want to see more. But I also want for it to be OK to feel aggression at times.
It’s interesting because the depiction of Black men has always been skewed. It’s been one side of the spectrum or the other. So it makes us confused when we see renditions that aren’t either one of those extremes. I also feel that with Black love there’s something that accompanies the dynamic that causes us to look less than human in a sense.
So I feel like the stories like this where the balance is more, it feels more human. Where you could substitute either person for another race and it wouldn’t matter. The reason why that’s important is that it allows us to speak from a human perspective and build a story in that and then move from that standpoint.
When you think of Valentine’s Day messaging and film releases, Black people aren’t the first people you think of. Will The Photograph encourage Black creatives to do more love-specific projects?
I hope that it will represent an opportunity for people to be more willing to tell stories about love and people of color in general. But more specifically, Black people in this country. There’s so many different versions of love, so many different versions of a Black person that lives in this country that are doing different things. I want to see the multitude of that. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m not done seeing them and I’m not done hearing them.
Stella has a particular viewpoint about it, her being Black but also Canadian. I think it’s an opportunity that pushes and reinforces the fact that there are so many different kinds of Black throughout the world and the diaspora in general. We want everyone to start telling their stories so that Black stories don’t look weird to us anymore. We want to see couples that aren’t White on the billboard on Valentine’s Day. That’s our main hope. That’s our main ambition.
The Photograph is in theaters everywhere.