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'Finding Tony' Director Raven Magwood Goodson And Star Stephen Bishop On Telling Authentic Stories On Screen
Culture & Entertainment

'Finding Tony' Director Raven Magwood Goodson And Star Stephen Bishop On Telling Authentic Stories On Screen

In cinema, stories often serve as mirrors reflecting the complexities of our experiences. Finding Tony, the latest cinematic gem from millennial director Raven Magwood Goodson, takes us on a profound journey of trauma, redemption, and resilience. With the magnetic performance of lead actor Stephen Bishop, this film shines a light on the struggles and triumphs we face daily. Through the lens of mentorship, community, and self-discovery, Finding Tony invites audiences to journey alongside its characters as they navigate the complexities of life, love, and everything in between.


In the process, it sparks conversations, challenges assumptions, and inspires viewers to embrace their own stories with pride and authenticity. As the film prepares to make its mark on the cinematic landscape, it serves as a reminder of the importance of representation and the power of storytelling. Executive-produced by NBA star Anthony Davis, Finding Tony not only adds another layer to the tapestry of Black narratives in cinema but also reaffirms the significance of our voices in shaping the cultural conversation.

Crafting Calm in the Creative Storm

As Black women, it's crucial to carve out moments of self-care amidst the demands of our daily lives. Raven Magwood Goodson, the visionary behind Finding Tony, embodies this ethos with unwavering grace and determination. In our conversation, she shared her strategies for nurturing her well-being amidst the whirlwind of filmmaking, offering valuable insights into the importance of prioritizing self-care in pursuit of creative excellence.

"While shooting, I was all into the film. No one knew, but I was pregnant and 2-3 months along. After production, you have a long period of post-production, and we spent months editing, going back, rewatching, and adding music,” Raven explains. “During that time, I was able to prioritize myself and my family. It’s a matter of being intentional for me and knowing these are the things I have to do for the film or for other businesses I have. I'm very intentional about whether it's work or play and making sure everything gets my attention.”

Amplifying Black Narratives in Cinema

Anthony Davis (L) and Raven Magwood Goodson (R).

Courtesy

Our stories matter, serving as the heartbeat of our collective experiences. Authentic representation on screen is not just a desire but a necessity, and Finding Tony emerges as a powerful testament to the importance of reclaiming our narratives. In our dialogue with Raven, we delved into her vision for the film and its profound impact on Black stories in cinema.

"I just want to be able to be an advocate, whether it's through the actual storytelling or my own life, for individuals that look like me. I know the importance of being able to watch TV and have an example because, being a brown-skinned girl growing up, sometimes you look and you don't see those examples,” Raven says. “To have women and little girls come up to me and say how much I've motivated them and that they want to write a book or a movie because of me means the world to me.”

Authorship Amplified: Raven's Journey to Filmmaking Mastery

Black women are no strangers to wearing many hats, navigating various roles and responsibilities with unparalleled grace. Raven epitomizes this multifaceted brilliance, seamlessly transitioning from author and motivational speaker to director. In our conversation, she shared how her experiences in these diverse domains equipped her with the skills and perspective needed to lead with confidence and creativity in the realm of filmmaking.

"I get the distinct opportunity to speak to a lot of different types of people, young people, women, men, and athletes about their experiences. I got the inspiration for Finding Tony. I've met a lot of different individuals, youth, whether that's in high school or college, that had similar experiences to [the lead character] Destiny and the film,” Raven shares. “I've also spoken to a lot of mentors, and people have gone through adversity and found themselves in a Tony space as well. My experience in speaking, writing, and getting to know different audiences shaped my viewpoint to be able to write this story.”

Game Plan to Script: Stephen's Playbook for Acting Success

"Finding Tony" Star Stephen Bishop

Stephen Bishop

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In a world that often underestimates our abilities, the Black community continues to excel in diverse arenas. Stephen Bishop's journey from professional athlete to actor resonates deeply with our own experiences of resilience and adaptability. As a former Atlanta Braves player, Stephen talked about how his background in sports equipped him for the challenges of portraying a complex character in Finding Tony.

“In sports, you learn a lot of life lessons and can use a lot of those to help inform your characters when you're in different roles. But specifically, this role, it helped because I’ve been an athlete who's had to retire,” Stephen says.

“I am a current coach, so I know what the transition was like. I know a lot of the emotions you go through and things you battle with when you're looking at athletes that you're trying to get to level themselves up. It was a very fortunate coincidence that I happened to be an ex-professional athlete who was going to play this role. It played a big part in me being able to be as comfortable as I was in the role.”

A Role Written in the Stars: Stephen's Path to 'Finding Tony’

Raven shares that her decision to cast Stephen in the lead role of Tony was a moment of intuitive certainty, sparked by his compelling performance in Terminal List alongside Chris Pratt. Upon witnessing his talent, she knew without hesitation that he was the perfect person to capture the essence of Tony Greene. The very next day, fueled by conviction, she reached out to her casting director, passionately advocating to do whatever it took to secure Stephen for the pivotal role. This bold move speaks volumes about Raven's unwavering commitment to bringing her vision to life with authenticity and excellence.

As Stephen reflects on this pivotal moment from his perspective, he shares, "They told me about it and sent the script. [My team and I] all read it the same day, and then the next day, we all got back on the phone, and I said, ‘I really like this.’ A lot of times in my career, by the grace of God, I've played the love interest, and I've been in a couple. I've been really wanting to move into roles where I could just be a standalone character and have my storyline drive the film or the television show without it being at the whim of the relationship. And this role came along and it was not only that, but it was an opportunity for me to really show myself and others what kind of chops I really have because there's a huge emotional arc.”

Raven Magwood Goodson, Stephen Bishop, and David Banner on set of "Finding Tony"

L-R: Raven Magwood Goodson, Stephen Bishop, and David Banner on set of "Finding Tony."

Courtesy

As today marks the release of Finding Tony, it's not just a film hitting the screens; it's a testament to the power of determination. Shot in a mere 17 days, this cinematic gem shows the sheer dedication and grit of its creators. Director Raven Magwood Goodson, amidst her battles, led the charge with unwavering strength and grace, proving that obstacles are merely stepping stones to greatness. Through late nights and unforeseen hurdles, her unwavering vision shone bright, guiding the cast and crew through the rollercoaster ride of production.

Finding Tony reminds us that even in the face of adversity, there's beauty to be found, strength to be discovered, and purpose to be fulfilled. So, as we prepare to immerse ourselves in Tony's journey, let's raise a glass to the triumphs of creativity, resilience, and the unbreakable bonds forged in the pursuit of art.

Finding Tony - Official Trailer

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