The premiere of TV One’s “The Bobby DeBarge Story” is finally airing June 29, 2019 at 8 pm, so to celebrate, actors Roshon Fegan, Tyra Ferrell, Adrian Marcel, Blue Kimble and Big Boi chatted with us about the making of the film which is the untold story of some aspects of the life of Bobby DeBarge, his role as the lead singer of Switch and the formation of his siblings’ group DeBarge. Tears will likely fall as many of the DeBarge members have spoken of abuse at the hands of their father Robert DeBarge. Two tracks from the groups are featured in this Russ Parr-directed film.
RIGHT ON! How did you actors feel about your roles in the film?
ADRIAN MARCEL: This was a dope experience. I was able to showcase my acting chops. It was already exciting, so when I got the part of James DeBarge, I was having to express those past emotions and added myself to their legacy. It was my first time acting in a film that was about a real life singing group.
LLOYD: This was an out-of-body experience. It was a lot of fun. Like Adrian, it was my first acting experience. I had some experiences with this amazing cast. It was like being at home and playing a legend, an unspoken legend (Gregory Williams, founder of the Motown group Switch).
ROSHON FEGAN: This was a different kind of role for me as it was about a person. This is brand-new. I was raised in a music-heavy family, so Switch and DeBarge music was there. I was a fan but I didn’t know the story and it took a lot of prep. I looked a lot of video and you could see the pain and stress he (Bobby DeBarge) was going through with his performances, so with that being said I listened to the music and just tried to put myself in his shoes.
BIG BOI: To me, it was an honor to play Berry Gordy Jr. It was challenging playing the gangster with the charm. I had to lighten up a little bit. He was a mogul and producer who had an ear for talent. I turned him up a little bit. (LOL)
TYRA FERRELL: It was difficult to play the mother, Etterlene DeBarge on some levels. But being an artist, I’m empathetic Meryl Streep didn’t have to experience the Holocaust to play in that film. As an actor you have to go deep. I read Etterlene’s book “The Other Side Of Pain.” She was seeking refuge in the church and the kids found refuge in music. It was remarkable that one family would have so much talent and she coached them as she was a singer, too. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. People will watch because of the music but there’s another story, too. I tried not to judge her. If you have 10 kids it’s highly likely there’s postpartum depression. When you have 10 kids and you are depending on your better half…The only love she knew was what was given by her husband.
BLUE KIMBLE: I had to embody the actors as my brothers to make it real. We came to work every day with a smile from ear to ear. It was fun. When we were done, we stayed because we were having that much fun, wearing the hair, the costumes. We had to honor their fans. I was blessed to work on a lot of great films, but this will go down in history.
RIGHT ON!: What are some of the takeaways about this made-for-TV project?
ADRIAN MARCEL: This was real. The pain that the DeBarge family went through… they drew passion from that pain. The passion pierces through the music. They did things that weren’t being done and their music stands the test of time and that’s what we as artists want. It took a certain level of prep, but It was easy for me to settle in. This a dark story but it’s relatable.
Lloyd: You just drop in your own life into the story. You let go and rely on instincts and the environment. Bobby was extreme personality. The guy I play, Gregory Williams, was not as intense. I understood the character Bobby DeBarge is really off the chain. He’s going to mess our sh—t up. I’m the big fan of this everyone (from the film). To be able to share that space with them was dope for me. The DeBarge family’s music was a big part of the soundtrack of my life.
RIGHT ON!: What was it like being Bobby DeBarge? By the way, Right On! is the publication that gave Switch and DeBarge so much publicity and gave the artists their start. They were on numerous covers, too.
ROSHON FEGAN: When this role came up I knew it was intricate and detailed and I took into account what he was doing with the music and I got so far in . I wanted to get it right for the fans. I gave my all.
LLOYD: You gave me my first cover, too. We got some things from YouTube, Soul Train and we tried to mimic some of the motions but the director, Russ Parr, knew these guys and supported them through his own endeavors. Since I play music I acted like it was me. (LOL)
BLUE KIMBLE: We had a great set coordinator and he knew Switch and DeBarge. He knew things like Gregory Williams always had his hat.