Academy Award-winning actress Mo’Nique plays Claire in ‘Blackbird.’ (Facebook Photo)

Coming of age stories remain the little darlings of Hollywood dramas.  Highlighting teen angsts, peer pressure and the general insecurities associated with growing from childhood to adulthood, audiences easily relate to and embrace them.  Few of Tinsel town’s efforts, however, have focused on the trials faced by African-American LGBT youth.  Director Patrik-Ian Polk’s “Blackbird,” offers a compassionate, often painful exploration of the sexual and religious identity confusion experienced by 17-year-old Randy Rousseau.

The story of a choirboy whose sexual desires for a fellow classmate cause him to question his spirituality, “Blackbird” opens wide the dialogue on youth sexuality and maps out the undocumented narratives of countless members of the LGBT community.  Newcomer Julian Walker is powerful in his performance as Rousseau, demonstrating a level of compassion for both the execution and nuances of the script.

“There were a lot of things that I could relate to with Randy.  Coming out to my family and religious issues that I dealt with when I was a child … I thought I was over it. I thought I wasn’t still holding on to memories or feelings of how I felt. But doing the film, it was like therapy getting over it,” Walker said.

Academy Award-winning actress Mo’Nique serves as the films’ executive producer with her husband Sidney Hicks, and said the story will have a monumental impact on the lives of young people struggling with sexual identity.


The movie “Blackbird” (Courtesy Image/ Poster)

“It’s a story that will resonate profoundly in the hearts of many, and a story that I knew, if told correctly, would create a movement and bring about change to the lives of so many people, especially within the African-American and LGBT communities,” Mo’Nique said.

Mo’Nique plays Rousseau’s mother, Claire, a devout Christian, whose mental health is compromised following the disappearance of her daughter and estrangement of her husband, Lance, played by former Grey’s Anatomy actor Isaiah Washington.

“‘Blackbird’ is a film about the choices people are forced to make as they struggle to figure out how to be themselves. And why should just being who you are be a struggle?” asked Hicks.

Based on Larry Duplechan’s 1986 novel by the same name, “Blackbird” was filmed in Hattiesburg, Miss., and takes on a type of Southern-gothic tone, using the Bible belt, its conservative core, and the ideological shaping of taboo sex as grotesque to reimagine what it means to go from child to adult, virginal to sexual.  Rousseau’s sexuality is fashioned as much by what he feels as where he is, who society tells him he is, and the rejection he believes he will incur.  Rousseau offers a multi-dimensional characterization by negotiating sexual discovery outside of common stereotypes.

Most importantly, Walker’s Rousseau is likeable.  Audiences will want him to find love and happiness.

“No matter who you are or no matter what you choose to be with your life, you deserve love,” said Walker. “I hope everyone enjoys this beautiful film of love, understanding and the many trials teens face while figuring out who they really are.”