The Cast of TV One’s Bobbi Kristina Biopic Is Bringing Her Story To Life Like Never Before
Some would agree that life is almost like a book. Every period of it comes in chapters and, within those chapters, await a story… a story waiting to be told, waiting to be seen, waiting to just simply be heard. Sadly, for this young lady, her story ended way too soon, never truly having the chance to be told, seen, or heard. It’s been a little over two years since the tragic demise of our beloved angel, Bobbi Kristina Brown, and, though she will forever remain deeply engraved in the hearts and memory of those closest to her, the pain from her missing presence still stings. This lost soul possessed so much beauty, beauty that the world never really had the chance to meet in its entirety. She never had the chance to see the fullest potential that life promised for her, and, most importantly, she never had the chance to see the light longing for her at the end of the dark tunnel. However, even though Bobbi Kristina wasn’t fortunate enough to bring her own story to the forefront, her everlasting impact left behind, on those around her, was enough for others to do so. TV One’s latest biopic, Bobbi Kristina, not only hopes to give the world the answers to their unwavering questions, and restore something that has been lost beyond the tabloid headlines, but to speak to the spirits of those who may be lucky enough to find solace in spite of the turmoil. This is the real-life story of Bobbi Kristina Brown.
Since being found face down and unresponsive inside of a bathtub at her home, back in 2015, ongoing rumors and unanswered questions still swirl the death of Bobbi Kristina. The 22-year-old died from what was said to be lobar pneumonia–a form of pneumonia that affects a large and continuous area of the lobe of a lung, after being in a coma for six months. It was reported that overuse of various types of drug intake was the cause of pneumonia. She was pronounced dead on July 26th, 2015. Now, nearly three years later, those ongoing rumors and unanswered questions are sought to be put to rest.
Written by Rhonda Baraka and directed by Ty Hodges, the self-titled biopic, Bobbi Kristina, tells the story of legendary icons Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s one and only child, Bobbi Kristina, who grew up in the shadow of her superstar parents’ spotlight. Living through the public eye, faced with many adversities–mentally, emotionally, physically, and having to deal with the shocking and sudden loss of her mother, through it all, Bobbi Kristina still managed to hold on, even through the highs and the lows.
“I grew up in this industry, as a child performer. I think one of the things that attracted me to this project was, sometimes, when you’re attached to fame or being in some sort of limelight, it can be dehumanizing to where you’re just supposed to show up and perform and be a commodity for people to talk about you, judge you.” Director Ty Hodges confesses.
The anticipated film will offer an intimate look at just who Bobbi Kristina Brown was, as a daughter, and, when it was all said and done, as a human being whose only wishes were to find happiness in the midst of the sadness, see the good in the midst of the bad, and love in the midst of the hate.
“First and foremost, I was drawn to the mother-daughter bond that was between Krissy and Whitney. The idea of what Bobbi Kristina went through with losing her mother was heartbreaking. I was still very, very intrigued by their bond, but, beyond that, I was really passionate about her story. I really felt that her story had been cut short; when her life ended, people were ready to dismiss her, to silence her story, to sort of turn off the lights and call it a day. This film gave us the opportunity to do what she couldn’t do, to speak for herself, to stand up for herself, to tell her truth. And, we made a very, very deliberate attempt to recreate this story into the universe.”
Viewers will also get a glimpse into her relationship with Nick Gordon, whose role in her life sparked lots of controversies, as well–which plays a big part in the lesson of love.
“One of the things that appeal the most to me about the Bobbi Kristina story is that, at the end of the day, this is a story of a young girl who was looking for a boy to love her. To me, it is a love story gone wrong, and, to be honest, it could’ve been anyone. She didn’t have to be Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s daughter; she just happened to be Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s daughter–which added another layer of complexity to the relationship that she was seeking, and it also added a level of complexity of what she brought to the relationship between her and Nick Gordon. So, I think that we put together a really strong team. It was really special from day one. The casting was impeccable; the portrayals were fantastic. We’re really happy about this film.” SVP of Original Programming & Production, D’Angela Proctor, states.
However, though many were ecstatic to see the film be brought to fruition, critics posed the question, “Why now?”
“I don’t know that it will be better to tell the story two years from now or three years from now. The story is something that is told as a cautionary tale to young women, in terms of the choices that they make and who they bring to a relationship and whether they bring their best selves to a relationship. So, in that regard, it’s a universal story that can be told at any point and time.” Proctor expresses.
With a strong storyline, it was only right to assemble an even stronger cast to bring the Bobbi Kristina biopic to life, and we can vouch to say that the casting was phenomenally crafted in bringing these characters alive. Starring in the film is newcomer Joy Rovaris (The New Edition Story, Stuck In The Middle), portraying the title character of Bobbi Kristina, herself. This happens to be the first lead breakout role for Rovaris.
“From day one, when I started doing research into Krissy’s world, it was like there was a common recurrence where she was always saying, ‘I just want the world to know the real me, them to know who I am. I want to tell my story.’ So, it became this really intense personal mission for me. Telling her story became my number one focus and for her voice to be heard. What I would like for people to take away from Bobbi Kristina, as a person, is her sense of humor, who she was as an individual, her beautiful relationship with Whitney, her spice, and, most importantly, right before her untimely passing, she realized that she was enough. Because of that resolution of self-worth, she was able to go and pursue her dreams, and she was not afraid. She was confident. Unfortunately, she didn’t get the chance–which, maybe, ultimately, contributed to her passing, but I think every young woman, even young man, can relate to that. Once you realize your self-worth and that you don’t need someone else to validate that self-worth, you’re unstoppable and invincible.” Rovaris explains.
The actress then admitted how snagging the role of Bobbi Kristina had been an eye-opener for her, especially when it comes to love and relationships.
“You know, as a woman, you love hard. Growing up, what she saw with Whitney and Bobby, this was like something she wanted. So, I guess she was looking for that kind of love, herself. I think it was just eye-opening, for me, at how lost you can get into another person.”
But, though portraying Bobbi Kristina may have been an honor for Joy Rovaris–having established a personal connection with the family, herself, veteran actress Vivica A. Fox says that she was even more highly honored to participate in this project, too, portraying the role of Bobbi Kristina’s aunt-in-law, Pat Houston.
“It was very important for me to be a part of this project because I knew the family, personally. Pat took over a little bit of the parental role once Whitney passed away, looking out for Bobbi Kris. What I was more thrilled about–more than anything else, was working with Ty Hodges, who’s someone who I’ve known for a very, very long time. We wanted to humanize this story and these characters so that we explain how they were all connected, and about the challenges faced after such a huge loss as Whitney Houston passing away, to make people understand these people outside of the tabloid headlines. It was just very important for me because I loved Bobbi Kristina and Whitney Houston, and I knew Pat. So, I was glad that the director, Ty Hodges, made sure that I looked at footage of Pat, to get her mannerisms, and that we made her as believable as possible.” She recalls.
Alongside Rovaris and Fox comes actress and singer Demetria McKinney (House of Payne, Saints & Sinners), as Whitney Houston, Hassan Johnson (The Wire), as Bobby Brown, and Nadji Jeter (Grown Ups), as Bobbi Kristina’s love interest, Nick Gordon.
McKinney, who’s been acting for well over a decade or more, states that her role as Whitney Houston was something that was very dear to her, seeing as though she had been a long-time fan of the iconic songstress, and it was definitely an unforgettable privilege to be given the opportunity.
“Anytime I’ve been interviewed or asked what my dream role would be–even before her passing, it was always Whitney Houston. It’s not just because of the voice; it’s not just because of the phenomenality that she was onstage and the presence that she was in everybody’s life. It’s, more so, because of who I became because of her. She never met me, but being a person who has been homeless, being a person who has come from a household where I was being molested, there were different things that I didn’t know how to emote and almost couldn’t get out of because that space was so dark. But, her voice was literally able to bring me out of it. She was the musical inspiration for me pursuing everything that I’m doing with my music. So, playing this role has done so many different things for me. The opportunity to honor her and the opportunity to restore the humanity, as I think everyone in the cast really and truly wanted to do, is something that I absolutely could not pass up. If you take out Bobbi Kristina’s name, take out Whitney Houston, take out Bobby Brown, these are real people! I think the superhuman part of them–being icons, kind of took away from the fact that we needed to let them be who they were. And, that might have been the thing that saved them. So, playing Whitney Houston wasn’t something that I approached lightly, especially when they told me that my voice would be used for her, as far as the vocal part of the singing. It was scary, it was beautiful, it was spiritual. It was something that I won’t ever, ever forget.”
Jeter, on the other hand, says that he didn’t know just how much of an impact his character, Nick Gordon, had on Bobbi Kristina until he was around her close family and friends. “They told me how he really was. It was definitely an intense role to get into, to really get into his mindset and how he grew up, but it was interesting. How he came off and then how Krissy took him in, into the family, was kind of different. People saw him as a villain or a bad guy, but, at the same time, he had a kind heart. Krissy had a soft spot for him. So, it was fun, but it was very intense.”
For Bobby Brown actor, Hassan Johnson, he certainly faced many difficulties when honing his character, as he says the task was having to make sure he correctly showed the world the who the man behind the music really was.
“It’s was a fifty-fifty with bringing who Bobby was already into it and having to process everything. The way he took everything and handled everything, under the circumstances, spoke volumes for the type of person he is and his character. Ultimately and overall, I think Bobby is someone to, basically, admire, with just all of the tragedy and two of the biggest losses he’s probably had to experience, in his life, and we did, as well, along with him. I think he still turned out to be a winner.”
As you can see, Bobbi Kristina was just a girl who wanted to use her voice. She couldn’t control the cards she was dealt throughout this game of life, but we can find comfort in knowing that, although her voice cannot be heard through flesh, it can be heard through those who she inspired during her short time here on earth and those who were brought forth to help tell her story, chapter after chapter. This proves that there is always light at the end of the tunnel; sometimes, the light just takes a little longer to shine.
The Bobbi Kristina biopic premieres October 8th, at 8/7c, exclusively on TV One!
Join the conversation by using the #BobbiKristina hashtags on social media!
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