Ramona DeBreaux Overstreet stands as a one of the most successful radio personalities in Atlanta history. But while Overstreet found success in radio, she always had dreams of delving into film.
For 10 years, Overstreet worked on a passion project that recently came to fruition. She’s the writer of the new holiday film, “He Who Findeth: A Cinderella Christmas Tale.”
The film is currently on the streaming platform Mansa, a new platform and app owned by actors David Oyelowo and Nate Parker that is dedicated to streaming global Black content.
Overstreet recently spoke with ADW about the new film and transitioning into a new industry.
How were you inspired to create this story?
I have always loved to read and write. I published my first article centered around social justice when I was 11 years old in a local newspaper. It seemed like my writing and career was heading in the political direction but my life changed forever after I read Waiting To Exhale by Terri McMillion. I was instantly hooked on reading love stories with characters that looked like me. In college I majored in English and began writing a collection of short stories. A short time later I was hired to host radio and television where we frequently covered relationship topics. After years of hearing men and women go back and forth on the nuances of the dating, in 2016 I felt it was time to write He Who Findeth, A Cinderella Christmas Tale.
What message did you want to send with this project?
I wanted to spread the message that GOD doesn’t leave anyone forsaken, despite some of the messaging to women of color. I also wanted to share, through the characters, the testimonies of men who wanted love too. I wanted us to keep hope alive that no matter what we’ve don’t to one another or ourselves, that we are all worthy of respect and love. I also wanted to pay homage to the legacy families of Atlanta who had obtained great wealth despite all odds. It was impactful as a child to see the executives in Boomerang and to see the Cosby’s. So I want to show others who may see this film that yes, African American Wealth is real. The McBrides, Russels, Bronners, Kings, Vivians..are a reminder that GOD’s favor can bless generations from the seeds planted by our ancestors.
What was the process from idea to the opening screening?
First, I asked GOD to help me write the words. I knew that I was writing a “Good always wins” love story so I pictured the ball and worked backwards. I was inspired by everything from gorgeous homes to beautiful ballgowns. I could visualize all of the elements coming together to create the “He Who Findeth: A Cinderella Christmas Tale” world.
What was it like working on a set with this amazing cast and crew?
The EP team – My husband Wayne Overstreet, his business partner Len Gibson, and myself along with Associate Producer Athena, we knew we were in set heaven before we turned the cameras on. Everyone was so beautiful, inside and out. Our entire cast was so talented and professional. Our crew was focused and so nice. Many have commented that this was the best set environment they had ever experienced. Personally, it was invigorating to see Brad transform into the billionaire Daniel Anderson. It was awe inspiring to see Erica Hubbard as the vulnerable Lizzy. Rodney Perry was the most amazing…well I won’t give it away but phew! Rodney was soooo good. And my naughty characters, Ariella and her mother Regina (played by Laketa Renee Booker and Nevaina Graves Rhodes brought serious drama-comedy. Every time each of them read a line I felt like they were reading my mind…they nailed every gesture I saw in my head while writing this movie.
You started in radio media, what lessons have learned from the industry and what inspired this new venture?
Radio prepares your brain to think and process quickly. In radio, you have to be ready to pivot. In film, everything is based off of the script. Every department has to tell the story with their talent. In film production you are never an island. That is great! But I must say that the since in radio things can change instantly, it helped me stay cool if anything changed on set. Radio and its immediacy helped me to quickly think of workarounds to get through any mishap.
What advice do you have for inspiring filmmakers?
My advice is just do it. There are so many tools and resources to get you to and through the gate. Yes there are gatekeepers but if GOD puts it in your heart then do it. Find a team that believes in your crazy, because anyone who wants to make a film is a little crazy…but yeah. Go. Do. The helpers will appear. For everyone who knew about my film and said yes, I am grateful. I am equally grateful for the NOs because now I have learned even more ways to get to yes.
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