I didn’t want to cry. I had seen the trailer for Loving, and honestly, I was afraid it was going to be a subpar movie. Partly because I thought the trailer sentimental in a Hallmark-y sort of way, and partly because I wasn’t sure Hollywood could do an interracial story justice. Would multiracial people like the Loving movie? I’d been jaded by too many films with an interracial premise that relied on outdated stereotypes and plotlines meant to exaggerate racial differences, such as Lakeview Terrace and Hancock. But as I sat in the third row of the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills for the Loving premiere, I was captivated right away. Tears streamed down my face as the final credits rolled two hours later.
Loving is based on the life of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple who successfully sued the State of Virginia in 1967. The United States Supreme Court declared marriage an inalienable right regardless of race, thanks to The Lovings’ pioneering fortitude. This monumental change to the Constitution has impacted countless lives and has created safe environments for countless mixed race children.
Instead of falling back on Hollywood’s historical fixation with “yellow fever,” writer and producer Jeff Nichols created an intimate and surprisingly humorous movie that showed Richard and Mildred’s very “everyday” love for—and commitment to—each other. The Lovings weren’t portrayed as oversexed or even over-valiant. Instead, they were simply two adults who wanted to love each other in peace, live in the small town in which they were raised, and provide for their children.
Myself and other mixed race influencers attended the Loving premiere thanks to the efforts of Mixed Roots Stories and Multiracial Americans of Southern California. Not only were we given exclusive tickets, but we were seated in the second and third rows of the theater. We saw the all-star cast and crew onstage during writer and director Jeff Nichols’ speech. We clapped loudly when Nichols said that Loving is Richard and Mildred’s story—not his. Once I saw actor Colin Firth I squeezed my friend Ingrid’s arm so hard it almost left a mark, and learned he was one of the producers. It was as if Mr. Darcy himself had deemed my story important. In fact, it was indescribable to witness the enthusiasm of so many Hollywood actors, including Jason George, Chris Noth, and Austin Nichols, all of whom are in interracial relationships. I wasn’t just a fly on the wall at someone else’s event. The event was about me, about my parents, and about those who sat with me in those first rows.
Will other members of the multiracial community like the Loving movie? I asked a few attendees to weigh in:
“It feels great to know that people can marry whoever they want to, no matter what color they are. I am glad that I was picked to play the role of Sidney Loving and that I could tell the Lovings’ story. I also really liked working with Ruth, Joel, Quinn and Dalyn. I am so happy that I made some new friends.”
Amy Young, Brenan’s mom: “Watching the film Loving was very monumental for me. I felt a sense of connection to Richard and Mildred Loving’s story, being in an interracial marriage and having three biracial children myself. The Lovings’ story is very palpable. Watching my son Brenan portray the Lovings’ oldest son Sidney Loving was so surreal. We are truly blessed and thankful that he was able to be a part of telling the Lovings’ story.”
Amy Young, mother of Brenan Young.
The acting and cinematography in the Loving movie was nothing less than fantastic. The parade of celebrities on the red carpet in support of the film, and their colleagues, was equally incredible to watch. For so many of us, the Lovings’ story is mine, yours, theirs and, ultimately, ours. Eternally grateful for Loving, without it we would not be.
Delia Douglas, Multiculti Corner Co-Founder, Multiracial Americans of Southern California Board Member
The Loving movie moved me to tears. The Lovings not only showed me that love always wins but that there is strength in the most quiet and modest people. I am so grateful to Focus Features for an incredible experience last night. I loved that they celebrated the movie with the cast and other celebrities. What I loved even more is how they included various organizations like MASC, Mixed Roots Stories, and Mixed Marrow who are the everyday people who are the very product of the Lovings’ story. That really means a lot to our multiracial family. This is truly our story. All the executives and stars that I met last night were all so down to earth and were all about Loving. It really felt like a community.
Zenia Lasola-Smith, Multiracial Mama and Runner
Sitting amongst so much diversity while watching the premiere of Loving was an experience I will never forget. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that the Lovings were the pioneers for making interracial marriage legal. This was not something I was taught in school in Missouri. Seeing the full story on Thursday night was like magic. What I loved about the movie was the storytelling. How brave it is to tell the Lovings’ story without any grandiose action. We don’t see that much in movies today. It was so captivating and refreshing to watch. A memorable and emotional night as I realized, the Lovings’ story is a part of us all.
Santana B. Dempsey, Actress
The Loving movie spoke to something that has become invaluable to me in the times we’re living in. And that is the message that love is not only worth fighting for in the cliché terms we all think of. But that love can change the status quo. And ultimately the world.
The Lovings were forced to sacrifice their privacy, their comfort, even their home for the sake of each other. And their story, their sacrifice ultimately benefitted not only them, but a whole collection of people hoping to live the same way as the Lovings: together. And as a product of that kind of couple, as a mixed race American kid, I can’t be more grateful for the film and for the story being told.
We live in a society where the norm is pretty good. Now the norm hasn’t always been good for everybody. But we are fortunate that we can hope to change that norm for the sake of the human condition and the simple civil right of any and every man, woman, or child.
You should see Loving. Simply, it’s about love. And it’ll reaffirm yours.
Ronnie Nells, Singer Songwriter Musician, Booze Enthusiast, Westside Native, Wiseman
The Loving movie was a representation of the times and struggles of not only African Americans but the courage and fortitude of women. Loving showed how the woman can be marginalized by society yet still make a huge impact on the family. Especially a woman of color who had next to no rights at the time. The fact that it was an interracial couple gave them the undesired entry into the Supreme Court which ultimately changed the law of the land. But it all happened because she wrote a letter and kept the ball rolling in spite of the obstacles and potential danger. Women are awesome!
Mike Bowers, Entrepreneur, Cyclist, Toastmaster, Multiracial Father and Blogger
Judging from what others had to say, I think it’s safe to conclude that multiracial community loves the Loving movie. To that end, Multiracial Media and Swirl Nation Blog have teamed up for two meetups, one in Los Angeles and one in New York City for a night of Loving. Both are on Friday, November 4th. f you would like to attend, click on the flyer below.
Shannon Luders-Manuel is a critical mixed race scholar and writer living in Los Angeles. In 2014, she was a featured writer at the Mixed Remixed Festival for an in-progress memoir about taking care of her father at the end of life. Shannon recently penned an educators’ guide to accompany Multiracial Media co-founder Sarah Ratliff’s anthology, Being Biracial: Where Our Secret Worlds Collide. She has articles published or forthcoming in the New York Times, Essence.com, and For Harriet, among others. Follow her on Instagram @shannon_luders_manuel, on Twitter @shannon_luders, or on Facebook.