Support Our #creatives® Meets Andrée M. Harris, #writer and #director of the Film “Under His Control”

Introduction

I was watching Andrée M. Harris interviewing Antoine Allen about his film “Lola” (for which I was an executive producer) and learned Andrée is an actor in the film so I reached out to her. Ultimately she invited me on set of her film “Under His Control.”
As I always do, I was planning to write a blog about my on-set experience, but then I decided to conduct a full interview with Andrée. So this post is primarily about the interview, with a bonus section on my on-set experience.
Meet Andrée M. Harris.


The Interview

1.Please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us how you got your start in the entertainment industry.

My name is Andrée M. Harris. Wow, how did I get my start? Well for starters 🙂 I always had a love for entertainment. As a kid, my mom would have us dancing and singing. As the years went by, I buried the passion, however, I would write short stories and plays. One day, after writing, directing, and acting in a stage play, my friend and brother Tray Chaney said to me “Andrée, you did all of this, why don’t you pursue a career in acting?” I looked at him and said, “Let me think about it.” His statement to me confirmed statements of Howard G (“Kiss My Bumper” [Author’s Note: from Senate Insurance commercials]) and Sharon Brown (who directed several of my plays and serves as an acting coach to me and some of my cast members).
{Photo of Andrée M. Harris from Andrée}

2. You have been associated with live theatre as well as TV/film. Compare and contrast the experiences.

The experiences are totally different. My first love is stage, because I get to act it out in front of a live audience and I get to engage with the crowd. Film on the other hand involves no exaggeration; I don’t have to give it all at one time. Trust me, I had a time trying to “Not give too much” when I started acting for film. In acting classes, I struggled a lot. I had no control, everything was theatrical 🙂 . My acting coach at the time, in fact, he was my first acting coach, Mark McKinnon (McKinnon Acting) told me to study actress Viola Davis. She is a phenomenal actress whose range of acting is immeasurable to me. Nevertheless, I studied her acting in films and I began to slowly, and I do mean slowly, get better with film acting. I did several re-enactments shows on ID Channel and TV One and that helped me. I remember working on my first series “Illusions” (directed by Antoine Allen of Antoine Allen Films). I had to be a mother who showed favoritism between my two daughters. The mother part wasn’t hard but delivering without over-the-top drama was a tad bit tough. I must’ve pulled it off because we only had to do four takes. Antoine called me back to do “Momma’s Boy” and it was so emotional, I had to cry on demand and I remember saying “Cut” (laughing at the memory) and Antoine said so kindly “in the future, wait until the director says cut.” It was an emotional, captivating moment and I thought I wasn’t doing well but he thought it was phenomenal. That moment taught me that the director’s eyes are totally different from the actor.

3. You act as well as work behind the camera. Describe the benefits you derive from each.

In front of the camera: [I] love acting; it allows me to come outside of me and become totally immersed in the character that I’m chosen to portray. I get to remove Andrée or include portions of Andrée and give it all I got to keep the story going and real. Behind the camera: I stumbled into behind-the-camera work. Honestly, I did. I am an actress on the Antoine Allen Films roster, I remember him constantly saying, “Andrée, acting alone is not enough.” Also, at that time, he was hosting the “Validate Yourself” film festival. I thought okay, let’s see what happens if I put that motto into practice. I started saying to myself “I won’t wait, I’ll create.” I wrote three short films before I turned 55 and it sparked my behind-the-camera interest. I love watching actors bring a story to life, not to mention, the relationships that are built, as a direct result of both. Yes, they both have amazing benefits.

4. I first connected with you via the film “Lola.” Talk about that project.

I remember Antoine sharing with me the vision of Lola, I thought to myself “YES.” I had already watched the award-winning short film “Split Decision,” so, I knew that this movie would be great. We talked a lot about the project. I was so excited for him; I was willing to be an extra. He told me to study boxing films because I could be a corner rep. I said “ok, sure.” I received a call from him months later. I was on set of my first short film at the time. He texts back and said he wanted to share something with me. I called him back and he told me that I have the role of the mother to Lola (the lead character [played by] Taja V. Simpson). I almost fainted. I would also portray the mother to Jacinth Headlum and the wife to Nakia Dillard. The beauty about this was I had already developed a relationship with Jacinth and Nakia years prior. However, I knew who Taja was and I thought to myself, “I can’t mess this up.” Antoine told me he thought I would be a perfect fit. Taja was easy to work with. The entire production was fun, everyone was easygoing and I had a blast on set. I’m waiting on “Lola 2.”

5. Tell us about your feature film “Under His Control,” which is currently in post-production. Tell us about the process of getting this film made and what challenges have you have faced. Why did you decide to make this film?

The film “Under His Control” is Pamela Edwards’ (Founder of Eagles Homes) baby. Pamela and I have been friends for over 15 years. We did a lot of things together in ministry. When I began my acting career, Pam followed me and continually prayed for me. Pamela is the Executive Producer and Visionary behind “Under His Control.” The process to making this film was not difficult; as the story unfolded, Pamela approved the script we casted and went forth with the production.
{Photo: Film poster from IMDb}

“Under His Control” is based on a true story about a young woman named Destiny Young (played by Monei Sutton) who fell in love with and married a narcissistic man Corey Fleming (played by Therron Dumas). On the outside, her life looked rosy and normal, but behind closed doors she suffered. Her story, like many who suffer in silence from any form of domestic violence, shows the many phases of the journey, the good and the not so good.

Andrée M. Harris

We didn’t find any obstacles in getting the film made. This is the first feature film that I had the opportunity to direct. I was going to play the role of Destiny but it would’ve been very difficult to act and direct.

6. What are the challenges of distribution of your completed projects?

Distribution of my completed projects haven’t started yet. I’m putting two shorts on my website for viewing. Two features are in post-production and we will be seeking distribution. I have a few leads on the burner right now awaiting the next move. Thus far, I’ve built relationships and contacts that I will be utilizing in spearheading the distribution process.

7. People should know that the entertainment industry is not all glamour. What roadblocks have you faced and how did you overcome them?

The main roadblock that I had to face was when I got [my] first feature movie filmed, directed, and edited. I trusted several people in the process only to find out that they all had a scheme to take me for my money and never give me a finished product. The person who introduced me to the people ONLY said something to me when they turned on him. The production team took a lot of smoke breaks, smoked and drank in my van, and was never on set on time. AFTER they came to DC it was “we do things this way and that way.” What they neglected to remember was that they were on someone else’s time and dime regardless of the amount paid. It was indicative of the lack of professionalism and customer service. It was also indicative of me NOT doing my due diligence. They didn’t slate, they didn’t provide anything in a timely fashion, yet, they continued to string me along. Am I upset or angry? NO. That situation alone has given me tough skin.

8. What is the most exciting thing that has happened to you in entertainment?

The most exciting thing that happened to me? So many exciting things. The most memorable one was when I made a vow to write and film three short films before I turned 55. I did it in all within the span of 6 months. One of the movies’ qualities did not meet my standard so, I didn’t release it. The other two won over 31 combined film festival awards. The other thing is attending the Taste of Theater film festival in Chicago, where I was able to work alongside DeEtta West (aka Momma D), Eric Lane, Cynda Williams, and Drew Sidora. I was able to learn from awesome people such as Robert Townsend, Leon, Jerome Benton of the Time and so many more. Other exciting events are film festivals where I get an opportunity to glean from people in the industry. Last but not least, RED CARPET Events. 🙂

9. What other project(s) are currently in production? What are your plans for future productions?

There are so many future productions on the horizon. This year alone are three to four and I’m already behind.

10. Are there any other project(s) you want to mention?

I will be casting for a few short films; they are: “Mirage,” “Forgiven,” and my upcoming holiday movie called “A Mother for Christmas.” This movie I will be working with Antoine Allen. He made it known that this is project that he’s interested in. I tell everyone that he is young enough to be my son but wise enough in the industry to lead me and advise me. I’m excited to work with him at this level.

Aside from being in the entertainment industry, I’m an author. Two of my books are being revised. [The first is] “Being Made Whole” – a book about mending the broken pieces in our lives. This book came about in 2017 early 2018. During this period all hell broke loose in my life. I felt so out of place and off course. I began to do what I know how to do and that was to write. The second book is “Freedom from the Bondage of Brokenness.” This book gives practical steps to living a freedom filled lifestyle without the limitations that are set upon us by ourselves and other. [Author’s Note: Check out our post about the book here.]

“I Am Beautiful” is an inspirational book/writing journal for girls. [The] I am Beautiful Campaign is for teen girls who had to deal with their identity and understand their self-worth. As a teen, I remember it taking me a long time as a teen to know my worth. I felt intimidated and inferior to girls of lighter complexion. It was hard for me. However, through working with caring adults and surrounding myself with people who were in a positive space, it helped me.

11. What do you want to tell our readers that will inspire them?

No matter what, live out your dreams. Never explain yourself. Stay focused and remember there is a prize for you. Live life unapologetically. It’s better to pursue your dreams and make a mistake than to have a dream and do nothing about it. Don’t let fear drive you away from what you know you can achieve

12. How can we get in touch with you?

Email: iamandreeharris@gmail.com or info@andreemharris.com
Website: https://andreemharris.com/
Instagram: Andrée M. Harris
@iamandreeharris
Facebook:
—Fan Page:
Andree M. Harris
—Personal page: Actress Andree Harris


Alan’s Adventure on Set of “Under His Control”

I had the opportunity to be on set for a day of shooting for “Under His Control,” on the last day of principal photography, October 31, 2020. It was great to be on set again; it had been a while. I observed indoor and outdoor scenes.

The slate showed the Roll/Scene/Take. For each Scene (a number), the Roll (a letter, starting at A) advanced to the next letter for each camera position of the same scene. The Take (a number starting at 1) advances by one for each take of the same Scene/Roll. The Take resets at 1 when the Roll advances. I have found that every project is different in the way a roll, scene, and take are organized.

Example for Scene 59: A/59/1, A/59/2, B/59/1, C/59/1, etc. In this example, there were two takes for the first camera position (A) and one take for the second camera position (B). There was also a third camera position (C).

The following slide show contains a selection of photographs I took while observing the action.


Related Posts

Check out our post from 2020 about Andrée’s book “Freedom from the Bondage of Brokenness.” here.
Check out our post from 2020 about Andrée’s film “Vengeance Is Mine” here.


Conclusion

We have learned about Andrée M. Harris and her experience in multiple disciplines of creativity, from live theatre to film to book authorship. As is typical with many creatives, her rise to success took some time with lots learned along the way. She set goals for herself and went off to meet them.

Creatives out there, if you want me to interview you, please contact me. This will give you exposure to an audience in my “circle,” that you may not have reached before.

To my readers, please provide feedback or questions in the Comments. I would really enjoy hearing from you. And let me know if there are any topics you would like me to cover.


Disclaimer: The author is not being financially compensated by anyone associated with any project mentioned, for this post.

The interview was edited for readability and formating.


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