Articles: Talking Miss Virginia: ‘Uzo Aduba has a certain quality that the real Virginia has,’ says director R. J. Hanna




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By Samantha Ofole-Prince
Photos courtesy of Vertical Entertainment

Uzo Aduba as Virginia Walden Ford

She embodies all the strengths of the real-life Virginia Walden Ford who spent her lifetime fighting to create new educational opportunities for children and gives a sympathetic portrayal of an individual many will admire.

For  writer, director R. J. Daniel Hanna (“Shelter Animal”), Uzo Aduba was the perfect choice to play the impoverished single mother who took on an entire educational system.

“She was our first cast and we all talked about her in the very beginning of the process as we thought she has a certain quality that the real Virginia has. She is a very warm person, is a natural leader and just exudes charisma.”

L - R Kimberly Hebert Gregory as Tasha White , Uzo Aduba a
Virginia and Amirah Vann as Shondae Smith in the dram

Unfortunately for the filmmaker, the award-winning actress best known for her role as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren in the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black,” had an entire season of the show to complete before she could shoot this movie. For Hanna, she was worth the wait.

“It gave us time to prep. She had all these qualities that we thought were really special and would bring to the film. We had similar feelings about the script,  story, how it should feel and how it should be done and we had clicked.”

In the film, Aduba gives an inspiring performance as Virginia Walden Ford, the mother of a fifteen-year-old determined not to lose her son to the rough streets of Washington D.C. after discovering he has been skipping school. Unwilling to see him drop out and deal drugs, she places him in a private school. But when she can’t afford tuition, she launches a movement to change the flawed educational system ousting corrupt politicians in her quest.

“This is a story about a mother's love for her son and that is really the emotional core of the project,” continues Hanna who filmed the movie in just 19 days. “It’s really about saying a normal person can also be a hero. One woman wants to create a change and one person can start a movement and create a change. People are stronger together and voices are louder when you come together in a community.”

.L - R Niles Fitch as James and Uzo Aduba as Virginia

Based on a real character who had to overcome several obstacles to whip Washington, D.C.’s education system into shape, “Miss Virginia” is formulaic, but certainly watchable as it tackles a serious dilemma in the public-school system.
“It has a strong central character that you can relate to. As different as Virginia and I are, I  found her story to be so empathetic and what I am interested in is putting myself in somebody else's shoes and showing you something through someone else's eyes,” adds the director who is also working on a movie about a Zombie outbreak on Skid Row in Los Angeles.

Also starring Matthew Modine, Aunjanue Ellis, Vanessa Williams, Amirah Vann and Niles Fitch, “Miss Virginia” releases in theaters, On Digital and On Demand: Oct. 18, 2019. Check out the trailer below:

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