Q&A With Cast And Director Of "We The Party"
Mandela Van Peebles, Makaylo Van Peebles, and Patrick Cage II, the young stars of Mario Van Peebles’ film "We the Party," greet me energetically with hugs and
The movie is about five high-school friends living in Los Angeles. It follows them as they deal with romance, Facebook, prom, college, sex, fitting in, standing out, and finding themselves.
First of all, can I get a little overview of the movie? What is it about? Who are you in the movie?
Patrick: Well first of all, it’s about a group of five teenagers dealing with normal teenage problems: girls, money, prom, Facebook, friends, and all the trials and tribulations that go into coming of age. I play Chowder, he’s the rich kid in the group.
Mandela: My character is Hendrix, he’s the son of one of the teachers in the movie and he’s kind of coming from a less priviledged background, but he’s still really close with all his friends. The group of five friends are kind of like the outcasts of the school, but they still have each other.
Makaylo: I play Obama, so I’m the wise-cracking kid who can’t really play ball so I join the debate team, I’m basically the more intellectual kind of character and I kind of get pushed around. But before you write this movie off and think it’s all been done before, it’s not like that. There’s a lot more messages, a lot more twists.
You brought up that there are messages in the movie. Could you elaborate on that?
Mandela: One of the main characters, Y.G., who plays C.C., always wears a hoodie and it’s kind of interesting with the whole Trayvon Martin thing going on, he’s clearly been misjudged and prejudged a lot in his life and just exudes this negative energy. It’s like so many people judge him that he gives up, but we see that he’s actually a really conscious person.
Makaylo: I really like the message that “you are not exactly what you buy” and it’s important to start placing more emphasis on who you are, what you do in the world. But it’s not a documentary, it’s not like “you need to stop doing this right now”.
Patrick: I mean overall, it’s a party movie.
Mandela: It’s like one of those hot dogs, where it’s like a meaty hot dog full of morals and messages, but it’s wrapped in this nice doughy movie. "We the Party" is one of those movies where you’ll have fun walking in and walking out, but in between you’ll be thinking.
Patrick: You’ll walk out of "We the Party" wanting to do twenty different things. At once.
Mandela and Makaylo, given that your dad is the director and all of your siblings are in the movie, it’s kind of a family business. How is that?
Mandela: One of the important things, why "We the Party" feels so much like the group of friends are actually friends is because we are! Mario, our dad, wanted the movie to feel real so in order for us to be close we actually hung out and went to parties. One of the cool things about that is we’re still friends.
Patrick: One relationship is not authentic though, and that would be Makaylo’s relationship with his love interest.
Makaylo: Oh that’s actually a funny story. Our dad was drafting up the script and I was like “I’m ready for this, but who’s Michelle? Like come on, give me some hottie.” Turns out it’s my older sister. It takes a lot of acting strength to act interested in your own sister.
You keep mentioning how important the authentic relationships in the movie are. Do you think that’s what’s special about this movie?
Patrick: I think that and also when Mario came to us, he was like “this is what’s going to happen and these are the points I want you to hit, but you guys have free range of motion to just say whatever you want.” He let us ad-lib a lot, and I think that really helped us bring a realism to the film.
Makaylo: Something that you’ll find with "We the Party" is that authenticity is key. It’s rated R, but that means it’s going to be real.
Mandela: The other day, Danny Miller said "We the Party" is completely energetic, funny, it’s the movie he was hoping "Project X" would be. When I heard that, I just had to sit down. He’s a great guy.
What’s your favorite part of the movie?
Patrick: My favorite scene was the party scene. I showed up to work, went through hair and makeup, got to the set and they turned on music and we just had a party and they filmed it. It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in my life.
Mandela: I would say that my favorite scene would have to be – well, it’s not every day you get to punch Y.G. Let’s just say that. And of course the hot tub scene, and actually there was another positive message in that scene where Simone Battle’s character said “if we’re going to have sex we’re not going to do it now and it’s going to be safe”. After seeing that the AIDS Health Foundation actually bought up a lot of tickets and now they’re doing a tickets for testing program. So on April 6 in Baldwin Hills, if you get tested you get a ticket to go see "We the Party."
Patrick: There’s also a competition going on right now where you send in your name, your email, your T-shirt size and a picture of you just being the party, just having fun and the winning picture will get a "We the Party" T-shirt, "We the Party" signed poster, and two tickets to "We the Party."
Makaylo: Something about this movie that’s kind of unique is that it’s edutainment. It’s more entertainment but it’s a movie that also inspires you to think for yourself.
Do you have any plans for the future? Where are you trying to go from here?
Patrick: I’m definitely trying to act some more, but Mandela and I have kind of gone into business together and we are currently filming a short film that he wrote and is directing and I’m producing and we both star in called Flipped. Definitely what I want to continue doing is filmmaking for the rest of my life.
Mandela: I definitely want to continue in the acting, directing, and screenwriting business.
Patrick: I love these guys, that’s why we went into business together.
Makaylo: Right now I’m applying to some Ivy League schools on the East Coast, but I’m actually trying to pursue the acting career at the same time. So we’re going to kind of just see where it goes for me.
Anything else you want to throw out there?
Patrick: On April 6 we’re trying to have #wetheparty trending. Most of all I just want to say that we love everyone who comes out for "We the Party," and if you tweet me a picture of your ticket from opening weekend I will follow you and shout you out.
Makaylo: And if you take a picture of yourself in front of the "We the Party" banner at any theater I’ll get Patrick to follow you too.
Patrick: I promise, if I get 1,000 people to send me a picture I will follow each and every one of them and I will do some sort of viral video of me running down a very busy street in Los Angeles in my underwear with “We the Party” spray painted on my back. I’m promising that right now. I will do that.
Mandela: We rep hard. My twitter name is actually “We the Party” right now. And my bio is “We the Party”. Are you following me on Twitter? You should follow me on Twitter.
"We the Party" premieres April 6 at the Baldwin Hills Rave Theater and select theaters nationwide. Find the full list of theaters "We the Party" will be showing in on Facebook. Find out more about "We the Party" on Facebook and Twitter, watch the trailer, and follow Patrick, Mandela, and Makaylo.