Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Interview: Dante Brown of “Won’t Back Down”

posted by Nell Minow

Oprah called him one of her all-time smartest and most talented kids.  And now Dante Brown is appearing in the new movie “Won’t Back Down,” a touching performance as the son of the teacher character played by Viola Davis.  He was nice enough to answer my questions about the film.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing schools today?

I feel that when your parents are not as active in your life, then disruptive behaviors come out in other places… home, after school programs, interacting with classmates & friends, etc.  I feel the biggest challenge that teachers face in schools, today, is… kids’ inappropriate behavior in class and a lack of respect for authorities.  As for schools in general, probably, a lack of resources and funding for students to have access to the latest technology, supplies and other stuff needed to make for a great school.


What happened to the school that inspired this story?

I’m not really sure there was one particular school that the movie was “inspired” by… at least that’s what I’ve heard Mr. Daniel Barnz say in some of his interviews, so I don’t really have an answer for that directly, but overall, for school’s that have experienced this or something similar to what takes place in the movie, I’d venture to say that the result might have been difficult at first, but like anything, if you keep at it and continue seeking excellence, the Principal and teachers prevail… the parents & students will prevail, so the school eventually is a success.  As long as there’s mutual respect and cooperative efforts toward the one goal of making the school successful.


How can families be more effectively involved in supporting local schools?

By taking an active role… when the school/kids have different events, go.  Know what’s going on with your child.  Attend the parent-teacher conferences.  Sign up to receive the emails, voice broadcasts and other communication.  Show that you care.  Take the time to attend different school events and if you have the time, volunteer and participate.  If you have ideas, share them and see them through.  That’s all it takes. Lead by example for your child that’s a student at the school, so that they, too, will be encouraged and excited about participating and being active in the school’s activities, whether it’s a school clean up day, a fundraiser, a movie night or talent show.


If you could make one change in the law to help schools, what would it be?
Every Principal would be required to have successful scores on their evaluations before being given a school.  I say this because my parents told me that the way a business or organization functions, depends heavily on its leaders.  I’m not really sure about school laws, haven’t really given that much thought, but if there’s not a law monitoring how effective a Principal or Teacher is, then perhaps there should be one. A law that would somehow monitor their effectiveness in helping their students to thrive, because after all, that’s the whole purpose, right?

How did you become involved with this project?
When my agent sent over the sides for my audition on the tape, the project was originally named “Still I Rise.” I immediately thought of Maya Angelou’s poem and was very interested in getting to know my character more, as well as the story. My name means poetic, so it’s ironic that I love poetry, and I was like, “Wow, interesting movie! [LOL]  Then I read the sides and the character was very different than me. But since the movie is a drama, and I love drama, I wanted to nail my audition to make sure I got a callback and be strongly considered for the role. So, I auditioned for it, is how I became involved with Won’t Back Down. LOL


Can you tell me about your casting process?
Sure.  My agent submitted me for the role and I auditioned for it.  My first audition was on video tape.  My Mom took me to someone in LA that tapes actors for auditions… it came out really nice… it was in high definition and looked great.  So we forwarded the link to my agent and my agent forwarded the link to casting in NY, I believe, because that’s where the Director Mr. Daniel Barnz is based… I think.  At least I know his family is from the east coast.  I didn’t know that until recently. *smiles*  Anyhow, I guess Mr. Barnz liked what he saw, so I was called in to meet him in person, out here in LA, for callbacks.  During callbacks he complimented me alot and before I left, said that he’d see me later, which they often do, but I don’t think anything of it, until my manager or agent actually calls to tell me I got the part.  Anyhow, a couple of weeks later they called and told me I booked it and I was super excited, especially after learning that I would play the son of Mrs. Viola Davis and Mr. Lance Reddick.

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