Vance has fun in family role

Cyrus (Tyler James Williams), the Rev. Jacob Debarge (Courtney B. Vance), first lady Gail Debarge (Dawnn Lewis), and Kris (Trevor Jackson) share a laugh in the movie “Let it Shine.” — DISNEY/ABC TELEVISION GROUP

He played the prestigious pilot in “Tuskegee Airmen” and activist Bobby Seale in “Panther.” He was the secret and shy Lymon in the film adaptation of “The Piano Lesson” and a top notch assistant district attorney in “Law Order: Criminal Intent.” Now, Courtney B. Vance returns to the spotlight in the Disney movie “Let it Shine.”

“I’ve been fortunate to have a career in film, theater and TV,” Vance said. “As long as the story is good, the directors and producers are supportive it will be a good experience. When everyone is on the same page and we’re telling a great story; that’s when something magical happens. It’s never about an individual, but about putting the best effort forward to create a great project. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of many great teams throughout my career.”

Vance plays Jacob Debarge, an overbearing pastor who does not like hip-hop music. His stance on hip-hop music causes a rift between him and his son Cyrus (Tyler James Williams), a shy, talented musician who pens romantic verses only to stand idly by as they’re delivered to the girl of his dreams by his best friend. This will be the third time Vance portrays a pastor in a motion picture. He also played a pastor in “The Preacher’s Wife” and “Joyful Noise.”

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“What drew me to Pastor Jacob Debarge was the storyline and that the backdrop of that story was set in the world of hip-hop and gospel. In this film, the audience will see that it is possible to bridge the gap between the younger and older generation. I really like Tyler James Williams, and Dawnn Lewis and I were in a project together years ago, so I was just excited about the project. Working with the cast was really a dream experience. There was a really clear vision of the film. Once everyone knew what the plan was and executed it; we had fun.”

Married to actress Angela Bassett for 15 years and a father of twins, Vances’ latest project is geared toward families and kids. He said it is not often he gets to do family projects, but when he does, it is special because he can share those projects with his own family.

“It’s wonderful to be in a project like this. A lot of times you do a project and it’s something your children can’t watch, but this film is one where kids in their school will be talking about that project that I’m in. It’s wonderful to be able to share what you do with your children.

“This film message is all about self confidence, overcoming obstacles, talking about issues, and bringing families together,” he continued. “Sometimes, as parents, we may think we know the best way to address issues, but that doesn’t always make it the right way. As a parent you do your best, you raise them, and have faith in the Lord, but you also have to let your kids make a couple mistakes in order for them to grow and find their own path. You can love them and guide them, but if they do stray down the wrong path you just hope for the best. You pray about it and hope they will come right back.”

With a career that spans 29 years and has earned him two Tony nominations, Vance is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. His show, “Revenge,” was picked up for a second season. He recently did a pilot for a show called “Graceland” and is developing and producing a film called “Book of the Year” with his wife.

“We’re partnering up with Sony, Bishop TD Jakes, and we’re in talks with Idris Elba to star in it,” he said. “This project will be my wife’s first directorial debut, so I’m excited about that. I have other projects in the work, but some of those are in the early stages.

“Looking back on my career and my life; I’ve been blessed. God has given me a gift and provided me with the platform to do it and I have a beautiful and loving family. Life is good; summer is coming up and I’m looking forward to spending time with my family and enrolling the kids in first grade.”

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