Oscar-nominated actor Terrence Howard, travels to Memphis Wednesday (Nov. 8) for the world theatrical premiere of his latest film, “Showdown at the Grand.”
But as is par for the course with the sometimes-controversial “Hustle and Flow” actor, this is no regular screening.
The night will feature a reception, the movie screening, and a “Tales and Tunes” session, where audience members can listen to Howard play his music and really get to know the creative and the motivations behind his moves, one of which is keeping the arts alive and being a conduit to young creative minds.
The event gets underway at 6:30 p.m. at the Malco Powerhouse Cinema & MXT next to Central Station in the South Main Arts District.
“I want the children of Memphis to know that their creative dreams will be supported. What I need Memphians to do is recognize and remember – any type of achievement comes from a creative spot. And I want people to come out and support this work,” Howard told a writer for The New Tri-State Defender Wednesday (Nov. 1) during an interview on Zoom.
The Memphis and Shelby County Film/TV Commission, in conjunction with Colored Girls Productions, have enlisted the help of Howard and his life partner, manager and film producer, Mira Howard, to help raise funds for the non-profit arm of the Commission’s Workshop/Apprenticeship Training Program.
“We’re not making any money on this event. We’re simply doing it to benefit the youth – those who want to have some place to gather and hone their craft,” said Howard. “I want Memphis to show up for themselves – that’s who this is for – the Memphis community. And attendees will leave edified and grateful for what we will do that night.”
What makes the Howards a great fit for this cause? They already are in the fight.
Terrence Howard added, “Youth aren’t creating as much as I think they have the potential to. “Showdown at the Grand” is exactly what we’re fighting for, to prevent the sterilization of our history…and preserve our future as creatives.”
Apart from “Hustle and Flow,” filmed in Memphis in 2005 (Craig Brewer), the “Empire” (TV series) star credits this movie as one of the proudest moments in his career.
“I’ve never been this character…He’s the furthest reach from anyone I’ve ever played before,” said Howard. “Now “Hustle and Flow” …that solidified my film career…
“Memphis is my Bethlehem. And 18 years later, I want to bring back an opportunity to the people who motivated me and supported me.”
Howard called his upcoming time in Memphis and the release of this film a “cosmic culmination of a celestial career” and shared some numerological observations centered around the number nine, which is the greatest number in Pythagorean numerology, symbolizing the ending of one thing and the beginning of another.
Howard is 54 years old, had a career-defining moment in Memphis 18 years ago, and is now releasing “Showdown at the Grand” on 11/8 at 540 S. Front Street.
Okay, okay – numerology might not be your thing, but surely supporting the Memphis arts and film scene is appealing.
So, back to the art.
In the new Shout! Studios film, set to hit theatres Nov. 10, Howard plays an autistic theater owner, George, who lives by his own set of rules and tries to marry his culture, tradition, and the ideas in his head.
The theater has been handed down to him, but the gentrifying conglomerates are trying to get him to sell it and he doesn’t want to.
George hopes his hero, played by Dolph Lundgren, whom Howard thinks should receive an Oscar for best supporting actor, will save the day.
You’ll have to see the film to see how it ends…but even then, Howard’s work won’t be over. Because art imitates life, right?
As the universe would have it, the Howards have created a tech platform, called Holly™, that connects creatives to industry opportunities, especially those who might not have an automatic “in” with the Who’s Who in Hollywood.
“Holly was designed to democratize the industry, removing the stumbling blocks that existed for me and my friends and make the path straight,” said Howard. “We’re connecting writers, directors, artists, funders, filmmakers, talent scouts – all the key players and creating a space for them to take back the entertainment industry.”
Holly currently is in Beta testing with its first 1,000 users and plans to roll out officially in the next two weeks.
Creatives can visit Myholly.app and reserve their “stage,” which is free for the first three months. After three months, everyone will contribute to their own success and see what it’s like to be around a community of people who like you and want you to succeed.
Between Howard’s new movie, his studio album “Shine Through it,” Holly and his book “The Center of Truth, Love and Consciousness,” which is available for free download, he calls himself a Renaissance Man.
“I believe that I am trying to get to a point where I can have a one-on-one with the creator. If I’m made in his image, I should see the creator, right?” said Howard. “Every human being has that responsibility, despite what they’ve been told. I want people to find the divinity in themselves.”
And if you haven’t started down that path, grab a ticket to this week’s event.