Stephan James exposes runaway college football greed in ‘National Champions’

Stephan James exposes runaway college football greed in 'National Champions'
Actor Stephan James (Photo by A.R. Shaw for rolling out)

Superstar quarterback LeMarcus James is at the center of gravity in college football. He is the best player on probably the best team, and he now has led his squad to their first championship appearance. But the film National Champions cranks into another gear when LeMarcus, played by Stephan James, sends shock waves throughout the corridors of power in the college sports industrial complex when he protests the contest he’s supposed to play in.

LeMarcus declares that he and some teammates are boycotting the game unless the billion-dollar industry agrees to give some of that money to the players. With less than 48 hours until kickoff, LeMarcus’ decision causes the biggest game of the year to erupt in utter chaos.

Playing the lead role in such a lightning-rod subject matter like college football coffers is what attracted James to the role.

“Immediately after my first read of this script, I thought, ‘Wow, what a timely and topical story to tell,’ ” James told rolling out.

“It reminded me of Martin Luther King or Malcolm X in terms of rallying the troops and really getting everybody on the same page. I felt that LeMarcus was so much more than just a star quarterback. He was a real vessel for change and for conversation. And that, to me, is what really drew me to this story more than anything.”

This is not the first time that James has tackled compelling roles in critically-acclaimed movies. He starred as the legendary track star Jesse Owens in Race, portrayed the iconic Congressman John Lewis in Selma, and was the central figure victimized by injustice in If Beale Street Could Talk.

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