By LISA RESPERS FRANCE
The new film Fantasy Football capitalizes on some of its stars natural talent.
Marsai Martin channels lots of girl-boss energy playing Callie Coleman, a tech-savvy young woman whose father’s long career in the NFL lands him with the Atlanta Falcons team.
Her production company is behind the family-friendly film. (Martin, 18, set a Guinness World Record in 2020 as the youngest Hollywood executive producer to work on a major production.)
She and costars Omari Hardwick (Bobby Coleman), Rome Flynn (Anderson Fisher), along with the film’s director Anton Cropper, recently spoke with CNN when they appeared at a Falcons game held at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.
It was familiar surroundings as the group shot plenty of scenes for their movie there.
The plot centers around Callie’s father, played by Hardwick, seemingly at the end of his career when his daughter discovers she can control his moves via playing the Madden football video game.
Martin sees the role in which her character also makes friends with the robotics club team members at her new school as more than just fun with its positive message about diversity in technology.
“I’ve met so many girls who are into technology and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) or are all about Black girls coding,” she said. “It’s important to shine a light on it because it’s a very big deal. It’s all about representation.”
For Hardwick, the project gave him the opportunity to lean into his football roots.
Before he became famous for his work in roles like James “Ghost” St. Patrick on Power, the Savannah, Georgia, native played as a defensive back at the University of Georgia and later tried out with the San Diego Chargers as an undrafted free agent.
“It feels incredible to be right back here at home,” Hardwick said. “This is obviously my hometown team … but I never got to play for the Falcons. With this film, I got to do my thing.”
Hardwick also pointed out that it was appropriate that they were attending a game in which the Atlanta Falcons were playing the Chicago Bears given that Rome Flynn, who plays Bobby Coleman’s rival, the hotshot young quarterback Anderson Fisher, grew up in Chicago.
Flynn told CNN that unlike their characters, he and Hardwick had no competition between them as leading men.
“It’s all love,” he said smiling. “We respect each other, and we brought out the best in each other.”
Fantasy Football debuts Friday on Paramount+.
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