The Washington Post

Director Robert Townsend promotes ‘In the Hive’

(An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Vivian Saunders’ profession and Vivica A. Fox’s character in the movie.)

Movie director Robert Townsend and actress Vivica A. Fox stopped at Duke Ellington School of Arts with a message of hope.

They were in town to promote the movie “In the Hive,” recently released, during Congressional Black Caucus week that officially begins on Wednesday. The movie is based on the real life story of Vivian Saunders, the executive director at the Hive Academy, an alternative school in North Carolina. The academy helps mold young men into productive citizens.

Students were excited as the watched the movie on Tuesday.

Townsend, whose movie credits date back two decades, has won national praise for making a movie that mixes humor with a serious message. But in an interview Townsend said the central message to young people is that they are loved.

“The film lets us know that we can’t turn our back on any of these kids,” Townsend said. “A lot of kids are dropping out of school. A lot of kids are at risk. This movie is a message of hope to kids, to teachers, to parents to say that we cant give up on our kids and it is going to take all of us together to make a difference.”

In the movie, Fox plays the role of Billie, the dysfunctional mother of the 16-year-old protagonist Xtra Keys. Fox said the character was among her “darkest roles.”

“We need to take care of generation next and let them know that we care about them and their future,” said Fox adding that young people today need role models in many fields. “I don’t care about you being the next great basketball player, the next football player. I care about you becoming a good mother and a good father, a good preacher, a good lawyer. There are so many other things in life to do that are productive.”

Duke Ellington Head of Schools Rory Pullens appreciated the visit. “It is important for young people,” Pullens said, “to actually see people who are being successful in the industry because that is what inspires them.”

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Hamil Harris is currently a multi-platform reporter on the Local Desk of The Washington Post.

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